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Latest Travel Updates Due to Coronavirus

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Latest Travel Updates: Ireland adopts EU ‘traffic light’ system. Airport testing now in place. Spain requires negative PCR test to be provided on arrival.

 

I will be updating this post regularly with travel updates due to coronavirus, so bookmark it and make it your go-to post for the latest travel information. If you have queries in relation to airline refunds and vouchers,  these posts might also be of interest:

How to get a refund if your flight is cancelled

 
 
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Ireland adopts new EU traffic light system:

Ireland has adopted the EU ‘traffic light’ system for travel, which provides for regions across the EU to be categorised as green, orange, red or grey, on the basis of the risk levels associated with COVID-19. A combined indicator map will be published each week by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), based on agreed criteria, including the 14-day cumulative incidence rate, testing rate and testing positivity rates.
 

 

 
The categorisation of ‘regions’ instead of ‘countries’ is significant, as popular hot spots such as the Canary Islands has seen significantly lower incidence rates than the rest of Spain. Arrivals from other countries outside Europe including USA and Canada will be treated in the same way as Red countries, and it is possible to reduce quarantine times by obtaining pre or post departure tests, which must be arranged and paid for privately.
 
Read: My step by step guide to the EU traffic light system for travel
 

 

 
Airport testing now in place in Irish airports from €99

COVID-19 testing facilities have opened in Dublin Cork and Shannon airports as well as various locations around the country. Prices start at €99 for PCR tests in Dublin Airport, and €129 in Cork and Shannon. The testing facilities are fully open to the public, whether they require a test for travel, or for another reason.

Many countries now require proof of a negative PCR test for tourists arriving from high risk countries. Spain recently introduced this requirement from 23rd November. A negative PCR test taken with 72 hours of arrival, must be shown on entry.
 

 

 
Ireland currently advises against non-essential travel overseas, other than to countries that are part of the EU ‘traffic lights’ approach, where the advice is to exercise a high degree of caution.  

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Travel Restrictions may apply to Irish people visiting selected countries in EU and around the world:

It is important to note that many countries require negative Covid PCR tests to be produced on entry, if you are arriving from a high risk country. Ireland is currently considered Amber (19th November ), but can change on a weekly basis, so it is important that you check Ireland’s status on the traffic light system, and the requirements of the country you are travelling to, before you travel. 
 

 

 
Spain will require a negative PCR test for all visitors from high risk (red/grey) regions the 23rd of November. This must be certified by health authorities within 72 hours of their arrival. A PCR test with certification is currently available from Randox at a cost of €99.

The Canary Islands have a separate regulation and require a negative antigen test to be taken on arrival for ALL visitors staying in tourist accommodation. An antigen test can be arranged locally and costs €25. However if you are travelling from a high risk region, and have a proof of a negative PCR test on arrival, this will suffice.

 

 

 
It is imperative that you check the entry requirements with the country you are due to travel with before you fly. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs website:

“Inclusion on the list does not imply the absence of any restrictions on arrivals in those locations. Citizens should be aware that countries continue to announce new restrictions on arrivals from abroad, including the requirement to quarantine on entry. This can include restrictions on arrivals from Ireland. The situation will continue to evolve quickly. Citizens who are considering travel to particular locations are advised to monitor news and information from the public authorities in their destination. The list and our Travel Advice is under regular review, based on ECDC data and advice from experts, and will be updated on a regular basis.”
 

 

 
Read: Top 10 tips for travelling during Covid-19

Read: Make sure to fill out Passenger Locator Forms before you travel overseas 
 

This website is a handy source to have, it shows you the number of Covid-19 cases in each European country, and may be useful if you wish plan overseas to a country with a lower infection rate than our own.
 

 

 

What if you don’t want to travel?

If you do you wish to travel, but your flight is operating, you are not entitled to a refund, regardless of your health situation. You should be able to change your travel dates, but if you cancel because you do not want to fly, that is seen as your own personal decision and no refund will be due.
 

 

 
Ryanair announced that cancellations up to end of July have been processed and all passengers notified. Therefore if you have not received any notification that your flight is cancelled, it is more than likely operating. They are currently NOT waiving change fees for existing bookings, so if you choose to change dates, you will have to pay the appropriate change fees. 

cancelled flights

Aer Lingus will allow you to change your dates without paying change fees for all departures up to 31st December. 
 

 

 
If the government advice is still in place against non-essential travel to the destination that you are due to travel to, then you may be able to claim on your travel insurance. You will need to have had a policy taken out with travel disruption cover or government advice, before the advice came into effect.
 

 

 

Refunds and Vouchers:

Many airlines are offering vouchers instead of refunds and there has been a lot of confusion across the travel industry. The Irish government has recently backed a new refund credit note that can be used by travel agents and tour operators to give to customers instead of a refund – note this is not applicable to airlines. These credit notes will be guaranteed by the state in the event that the travel agent or tour operator ceases trading. It will be issued with a future redeemable date, and on that date it can be exchanged for its cash, or can be used to book another holiday. According to Shane Ross, ‘the refund credit note aims to strike a balance between preventing sector-wide bankruptcy (with associated immediate job losses) and consumer rights.’
 

 

 
 While Ryanair and Aer Lingus are ‘officially’ offering refunds for cancelled flights, they are actively trying to get passengers to accept vouchers or change their departure dates. Other travel companies are not offering refunds at all. I have full list of my most popular questions answered, and the links to apply for refunds in these posts:

How to get a refund from Ryanair

How to get a refund if your flight is cancelled
 

 

Face masks are mandatory with most airlines:

Like many airlines, Aer Lingus and Ryanair have confirmed that face masks are now mandatory. While social distancing is not possible on board aircrafts, there will be extra distancing measures in place in airports, and in-flight services will be reduced. 

Read: Top 10 tips for travelling during Covid-19
 

 

Cruise lines & Tour Operators latest updates:

  • MSC has cancelled all sailings for UK & Ireland residents until 31st October. They will have a reduced number of ships in both the East and West Mediterranean from 15th August for Schengen residents only, (not UK or Ireland passengers).  Guests booked on a summer cruise can, up until 31st October, take advantage of the MSC Cruises’ Flexible Cruise Programme which allows guests to reschedule their cruise to a future departure date through to 31 December 2021. Guests affected by cancellations will receive a Future Cruise Credit of the value of 125%. If you are not in a position to take a Future Cruise credit, MSC Cruises will refund 100% of the balance paid on Cruise only and Fly Cruises.
  • Princess Cruises cancel all operations until the 15th December. Passengers can request a full refund or receive 125% cruise credit.
  • Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara and Silversea have cancelled most sailings until 31st October. Passengers can request a full refund, a 125% cruise credit or can change existing cruise to 2021 at the same cost – see more here.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line have cancelled all sailings until 31st October. Passengers can request a full refund or receive 125% or 150% cruise credit, depending on departure date. Cruise credit is valid until December 2022.

 

 

 

US bans travel from Europe including UK & Ireland.

President Donald Trump has amended the US travel ban to include Ireland and UK effective midnight 16th March.The ban applies to anyone who has been in Europe within 14 days prior to their arrival in the US. This does not apply to US citizens, however they will have to undergo health screenings on arrival.
 

 

 

Travel Insurance to exclude Covid-19 for new policies issued. 

With effect from 6pm on Monday 16th March 2020, a general exclusion for Covid-19 (Coronavirus) will apply to all new Blue Insurance travel insurance policies issued by travel agencies. This general exclusion will apply to all sections of the policy document. It is likely that all insurance companies will follow suit. Schedule Airline Failure and Third Party Supplier Insolvency will also be temporarily withdrawn. 

Coronavirus: What travel insurance covers:

 

Book Insurance Here
 

 

 

Note: This post is being updated constantly but travel advice and updates are changing on a daily basis. It is important to check with the company / airline you are booking with before taking any steps to cancel or travel abroad.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.

 

 

Other related posts on the blog:

Coronavirus: What travel insurance covers:

Why you need to add travel disruption cover to your travel insurance policy

 
Like travel tips? See more here.
 

 
Sarah

The Travel Expert
 

 

 

Travel Tips

When Can We Travel Again? 5 Things That We Need to Consider

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‘When can we travel again?’ was the top searched question on Google last week. Find out my thoughts below.

 

 

I was surprised to learn that ‘when can we travel again’ was the top searched question in Ireland last week. I should clarify, I am not surprised that people want to know when we can travel again, (God knows I do!), but I thought the question was a little vague. The answers to this question are completely different depending on where you want to travel to – be it at home or abroad, how much annual leave you have, and whether the airlines will even be flying. 

 

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There are five key questions that need to be asked before we can think about when can we travel again to a foreign country. If you can answer yes to all of these, then get planning! Otherwise you may need to hang on a little longer to find out…
 

 

 

1. Is the country you wish to travel to open for international visitors?

when can we travel again

Currently the Department of Foreign Affairs is advising against non-essential travel to most countries, except those on our Green List. Most of Europe is open to International visitors, but some require visitors to produce a negative covid test to gain entry.  Many countries including Australia, New Zealand and the US are expected to be closed to International visitors for many months.  

 

 

2. When will flights resume?

ryanair - when can we travel again

 

Many airlines have already resumed flying, albeit with reduced capacity. There are temperature checks and covid tests available in many airports, and face masks are mandatory on all airlines. Ryanair’s latest video highlights the new Covid measures than have been put in place. 
 

 

 

 

 

3. Are you prepared to self-isolate on entry and on your return?

travel updates due to coronavirus - when can we travel abroad again

Even if a country is allowing foreign visitors entry, there may be restrictions with regard to self isolation. These policies are changing all the time and may be removed in due course. Tests may also be carried out at the airport (see above) to eliminate the need for self isolation. 
 

 

 
Currently Ireland has a policy whereby anyone entering Ireland has to self isolate for 14 days if travelling from a non Green List country – this applies to both tourists and residents.  It is possible that you will need to plan annual leave for up to six weeks if you want to take a two week holiday – this includes two weeks self isolation when you arrive and when you return. If you can work from home this may not be an issue for you, but it should be something you clarify with your employer before you plan a holiday.
 

 

 

4. Are you happy to holiday with restrictions still in place?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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There is no doubt that holidays will not be the same until a vaccine is found. Most countries will have restrictions on the number of people in hotels, restaurants, bars and even beaches. Selected tourist resorts in Europe require you to pre-book your beach space in advance.

However, we have managed to get used to restrictions to a certain extent at home, so perhaps we will get used to it when travelling too. Villas and self catering holidays are already proving to be widely searched, and hotels will have much smaller numbers of guests. Personally, I will certainly be happy to holiday with restrictions in place, once it is safe to do so.
 

 

 

 

5. Are you concerned about contracting Covid-19 while you are away?

when can we travel again

This might vary depending on your age, reason for travel, and whether you can take time off work if you do happen to contract Covid-19 while abroad. Most countries when open, will have restrictions in place, possibly similar to our own. You may find the likelihood of contracting Covid-19 abroad is not much more than staying at home.
 

 

 
However, it is likely that you wont be able to stick to social distancing guidelines in airports, airplanes and even beaches. Many new insurance policies may have exclusions in place and will not cover you for Covid-19 – however Multitrip.com will cover you once the Department of Foreign Affairs says it is safe to travel to your destination. Ts&Cs will apply.
 

 

 
While the free European Heath Insurance card will be allow you to get treatment in a public hospital in Europe, it will not cover you for additional expenses such as hotel bills or rebooking alternative flights, should you need to stay in a country longer than planned. It is important to have adequate travel insurance cover in place before you travel.
 


 
It is important to note that travel restrictions and airline policies are changing daily, and that social distancing has become the new normal. Of course if a Covid-19 vaccine is found, travel may back to normal sooner than we think. In the meantime, I am hopeful that the work being done at European Commission level and throughout the world will make sure airports and airlines will be adequately prepared for when can we travel again – lets hope it is sooner rather than later.

 

Like this post? You might like:

Latest travel updates

Latest updates on refunds and vouchers

 

Note some of the links in this post are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

 
 

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