Holiday lockdown: The steps Britons must follow if destination faces sudden restrictions

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Holidaymakers may have just begun to dip their toes back into the world of holidays again with airlines now flying and travel corridors allowing for quarantine-free vacations. However, as coronavirus cases begin to rise across Europe, there is a sense of deja vu in the air.

Both Germany and France have reinforced strict measures on their citizens in a bid to curb growing cases as the winter months approach. Measures in both nations will remain in place until December 1.

Spain and the Canary Islands have also reinstated tougher measures, though are not yet in national lockdown.

Though at the time of writing, France and mainland Spain are not on the travel corridor list, many Britons have still opted to visit in exchange for two weeks of mandatory isolation on their return home.

Meanwhile, at present, both the Canary Islands and Germany are on the quarantine-free travel list.

However, the sudden reinstatement of lockdown measures could mean devastation for Britons who have plans to jet off in the coming weeks.

Despite an inclination to seek a refund for your travels, one travel expert has warned this is not the way to go.

“Getting a full refund back may be preferable, but if you know you will go back to a destination, contact the hotel and ask to rebook rather than a refund,” advised Shon Alam, CEO and founder of Bidwedge.

“Often, you can negotiate a better price, additional perks, or at more convenient times when a hotelier knows that you’ll still come and spend money with them.”

The exception to this, however, is if you have booked a package holiday.

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“According to Money Saving Expert, if your flight or package holiday is cancelled by your travel firm, you’re due a full refund,” explained Mr Alam.

In most cases, once a lockdown has been reinstated in a country, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) will issue a travel advisory for the country.

This could work very much to your favour, even if your holiday is not cancelled.

Mr Alam continued: “If your trip’s not cancelled, then assuming the FCDO’s warning against travel, you should still get a refund for package holidays, but with flights and hotels etc it’s much trickier.

“If it hasn’t been, ask to either rebook or rearrange rather than for a refund, as you may get back less than what you paid.”

Even if travellers do manage to secure a refund for their holiday, there is still the issue of travel money.

If you have already exchanged your pounds into euros, Mr Alam warns not to rush to change them back.

“It can be tempting to go straight back to the high street to change your euros back into Sterling, but don’t,” he said.

“You can get significantly better deals on your cash by shopping around and being savvy.”

At present, France and Germany have the strictest measures in place.

In France, a month-long “stay at home” order has been put in place except to exercise for one hour a day, seek medical care or buy essential goods.

Bars, restaurants and non-essential shops are closed.

There is a travel ban between regions and some external borders, including the UK. Britons must not prove their travel into France is “essential”.

In Germany, bars and pubs are shut. Restaurants remain open but for takeaway services only.

Gyms, cinemas and theatres are also shut.

Indoor gatherings are banned for more than 10 people between two households.

Hotels may stay open but only for essential reasons, they will be shut to tourists.

Spain has reinstated its “State of Emergency”, with regionalised measures in place. However, the country is not back in national lockdown at the time of writing.

There is also a wider national curfew, meaning people are not to leave their homes between 11pm and 6am.

The Canary Islands has put in place a regionalised “traffic light” system, with Tenerife so far the only region on “red alert”.

This means closing time for hotels, restaurants, terraces and bars is midnight with no new customers to enter after 11pm.

Large events are banned for groups larger than ten people.

Nightclubs also remain shut.

There are also stringent measures on smoking, with the public warned only to smoke in designated areas where social distancing can be observed.

For holidaymakers abroad in any country when new restrictions come in, the FCDO urges: “Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.”

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