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There is no denying that the Coronavirus has dominated the headlines for the past few weeks. Many reports have been entirely sensationalised and because of this we have decided to put together some helpful information that we believe to be factual and keep things in perspective for both our town of Haslemere and our clients travelling the world.
Coronavirus in Haslemere
Haslemere had its first recorded case of Coronavirus on Friday 28thFebruary 2020. At this point Coronavirus confirmations were exceptionally low in the UK (this was the 20thcase), but what made this case slightly unique was it was the first case in the UK to be contracted within the country (i.e. not from travel overseas).
It is understandable that local residents would want to ask questions and raise issues, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the sensationalised reporting that followed. Some media outlets reported the facts, but many chose to trawl the local social media message boards and instead compile article based solely around the comments of locals, who I’m sure never imaged their words would reach the nation. This quickly proved to the people of Haslemere, and the surrounding areas, that what we were seeing reported on the news, and in the press, was far from realistic in our own town. There was no mass ‘panic’ as had been written about, in Haslemere, and business really was as usual in our fabulous town.
It has however been a little quieter than usual, although at the end of last week, this did turn itself around. Local retailers have pulled together to spread the message far and wide, that we are all doing everything we can to reduce any risk to our staff and clients/customers and there is no reason not to continue to visit Haslemere and shop locally. Without the continued support of our loyal customers, the sad reality is that many small, High Street businesses may not survive, and for a fragile retail environment, that is something which none of us want.
So the message from Haslemere is……we are open, we are following the guidance from Public Heath England and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors to our fantastic independent businesses.
Coronavirus and Travel
With such a variety of press stories circulating, we fully appreciate that it can be really daunting to wade through the fact and the fiction. We are therefore only relying on reputable sources to provide us with facts. We also feel that a healthy dose of perspective is also needed at times like this.
It is not our place to disseminate media articles reporting on Coronavirus, but we are more than happy to discuss with you any of your questions and concerns, in relation to the holiday you have booked or would like to book. We hope the following Q&A is of use, but please call us on 01428 658777 if you would like to know anything more.
Q: What precautions should I take when travelling?
A: You should wash your hands often; use hand sanitiser gel when washing is not possible; cover your mouth and nose when coughing/sneezing; and avoid contact with anyone who is unwell.
You should also check and follow the latest advice from the Foreign Office, but we can assist with this where necessary.
Q: I have booked a holiday, can I cancel or change my holiday free of charge?
A: Generally speaking, only if the Foreign Office advice changes to advise against all travel or all but essential travel to a specific destination.
If the FCO advice says it’s fine to travel, but it is your choice not to, then tour operators can impose their standard cancellation charges.
Some of our tour operator partners and cruise lines have increased their flexibility, so please do check with us and we will look into this on your behalf.
Q: Can I get my deposit back, if I choose not to travel?
A: If the FCO advice allows for travel to a destination, legally our tour operator partners do not have to refund your deposit, if you no longer want to travel.
Q: What are my rights if my holiday is cancelled by the airline or tour operator?
A: If your holiday is cancelled by the tour operator due to coronavirus then you will be entitled to a full refund of the holiday price, but not compensation. This is because the cancellation is due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances.
Likewise, if an airline cancels your flight, the airline will normally rebook you onto the next available service, and cover your accommodation and refreshment costs in accordance with EC261 (the EU regulation on flight delay and disruption).
Q: What happens if I am impacted by an outbreak whilst on holiday, such as being stuck abroad at a hotel? How do I get home?
A: This is a very tricky situation. Currently, if your are stuck abroad because you/your hotel/your ship have been placed in quarantine and subsequently you miss your flight as a result, it’s the customer’s responsibility to cover the cost of replacement flights.
Whilst many of our partners are revising their terms with increased flexibility, it is not the liability of a tour operators or airline to provide a refund or replacement flight, as they were still able to fulfil the original booking.
Q: Will my travel insurance cover me against Coronavirus and its impact on my holiday.
A: We are not 100% certain, as every insurance policy is different. We suggest that you speak to your travel insurance provider and ask any relevant questions of them. For all bookings, we strongly suggest that you take out your policy from the date you book your holiday, to cover your pre travel period, as well as the period you will be away.
Please rest assured that Haslemere Travel will do whatever they can to assist you, if your holiday plans are disrupted. We will also work on your behalf to negotiate with our suppliers, ensuring we gain the most flexibility for you. For ANY questions please call us on 01428 658777.
One final insight comes in the form of a short video put together by Farina Azam, a respected travel lawyer in our industry and partner at Kemp Little LLP.
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