Culture Sec demands Ryanair help desperate Brits get refunds & reschedule holidays as firm REFUSES to cancel flights
RYANAIR should buck up and help desperate Brits get refunds and reschedule their holidays after the firm refused to cancel flights, the Culture Secretary has said.
Oliver Dowden called on the flight firm to step up and be "flexible" after the Government advised against all but essential travel to Spain.
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Thousands of flights have been cancelled by major travel companies, but Ryanair has said theirs will continue to go ahead – leaving thousands having to quarantine when they get home or face losing their money.
Some people may be able to get refunds for the flights if they booked their travel insurance before the coronavirus outbreak – but newer policies won't cover it.
Today Mr Dowden called on the airline to see sense.
He told BBC Breakfast: "I really think that airlines like Ryanair and indeed any other other travel operators should show a degree of flexibility and understanding to their customers and look at how they rebook passenger for a later date, offer credit notes, refunds as necessary.
"People should not be penalised for doing the right thing.
"Doing the right thing is not travelling to Spain right now unless its essential to do so."
The Government slapped travellers returning from Spain with a two week quarantine at the weekend, causing uproar among tourists.
And it advised against all but essential travel to Spain – and later the Spanish islands – forcing thousands to cancel their long-planned holidays this summer.
It comes as:
- Mr Johnson fears a second wave will hit the UK in just two weeks
- The UK secured access to 60 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine
- Heathrow boss says holidaymakers must have airport tests to cut quarantine
- Defiant Brits jet off to Spain despite 14-day quarantine and warnings
- Almost half a million Brits will lose the entire cost of their holidays
It was reported yesterday that the Government could reduce the 14 day quarantine down to ten in future.
And ministers are considering asking everyone who has returned from Spain to get a test – even if they don't have symptoms.
Heathrow's boss has called for a new double testing plan – one at the airport and one after a week at home – to try and slash the quarantine down.
Mr Dowden said all options were on the cards but there was "no viable alternative to the 14-day quarantine", at the moment.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If we could avoid imposing quarantine in a way that it was safe to do so, of course, we would do that – that is why we keep it under review."
He added: "We are not at the point where there is a viable alternative to the 14-day quarantine.
"There is a real risk here – the virus is spreading around the world, it's rising rapidly around the world.
"We need to ensure that the measures we've taken in the UK – which have been very difficult – to keep this virus under control, do not go to waste because we allow cases to come in from elsewhere."
He warned that other countries could be slapped with travel quarantines at short notice – just like Spain.
People "need to be aware of the risk that quarantine could be imposed" he stressed.
"But as long as people are aware of that risk they should continue to book holidays, but just bear in mind that this may happen, and sadly it has happened in Spain," the Culture Secretary added.
It was reported this morning Belgium and Luxembourg could be the next.
Brits are still able to travel to Luxembourg despite the country having the highest rate of coronavirus cases in Europe, almost 15 times higher per capita than Britain.
Eleven countries where "air bridges" exist with the UK have had a recent spike in cases, including Belgium, Luxembourg and Croatia.
Mr Johnson fears a second coronavirus wave could hit the UK within just two weeks.
Will my travel insurance cover my holiday to Spain?
MANY Brits have been left confused after the FCO changed its travel advice for Spain to “all but essential travel”.
The Sun spoke to Malcolm Tarling from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to find out what it means for your travel insurance. He said:
"If you’re stuck in Spain at the moment and not coming back immediately, your travel policy will continue to cover you in the usual way if you lose possessions or need emergency care.
"If you’re going to Spain regardless of the latest government advice, then it will invalidate any insurance policy you had taken out for the trip.
"You should talk to your travel agent or tour operator if your trip has been affected by the change in advice.
"Holidaymakers are entitled to a refund in full if trips have been cancelled due to FCO advice, but not if you booked separately.
"If you make arrangements to defer or change the destination of your trip then you can normally transfer your travel insurance.
"Many policies will cover you for cancellation if the government advice changes to all but essential travel, as long as the policy was purchase before the latest guidance was issued.
"But more recently, insurers have been adding Covid-19 exclusions for known risks that be taken when you book a holiday so you might not actually be covered.
You need to check your policy to see if you are covered.”
The Prime Minister is said to be "extremely concerned" by new outbreaks "bubbling up", both at home and abroad.
A senior Government source told the Daily Mail: "People have got to realise we're in the middle of a pandemic."
It comes hours after Mr Johnson warned there are signs of a second wave sweeping Europe.
Quarantine: your questions answered
What happens when anybody arrives from Spain?
Travellers returning to the UK from Spanish mainland, the Canary Islands and Balearics will have to fill out a form declaring where they will be for the next 14 days and stay put.
What if I refuse to give my address or break quarantine?
Fines start at £100 for failing to fill in the form in England. Breaching the self-isolation will result in a £1,000 penalty for UK citizens or possible deportation for foreign nationals.
Is anyone exempt from quarantine?
Foreign diplomats and those who travel regularly to and from the UK, such as lorry drivers and medical workers, are not covered by the rules. Elite sports such as Formula One and Champions League footballers are also exempt, providing they create "bubbles".
What happens if I have to be back at work the next day?
It is up to your employer to grant you time off. Before last night there was no automatic compensation for people who miss work or lose business due to quarantine.
Are all parts of Spain on the 'don't travel' black list?
Separately, the Foreign Office says to avoid all but essential travel to mainland Spain, but this does not extend to the Canary Islands and Balerarics. However, holidaymakers in all parts of Spain including the islands WILL have to quarantine.
Why is this necessary?
A fresh outbreak of the virus in Spain has increased the risk of tourists spreading the infection in the UK. The Government says the measures are backed by science and will help prevent a second wave imported from abroad.
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