The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 7,375 in Italy since Sunday 8th March 2020, and the death toll currently stands at 366. On the same day, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) changed its advice to,
“All but essential travel to a number of areas in northern Italy, due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) and various control and isolation measures imposed by the Italian authorities on 8 March.”
As a result, British Airways cancelled 36 flights to and from northern Italy which were due to depart on Monday 9th March 2020. Flights to and from Milan and Venice have been largely affected as well as flights to the entire Lombardy region. The decision came after the Italian government imposed severe restrictions on various parts of the country in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.
According to the Independent,
“British Airways is telling passengers booked to travel to Milan, Venice or Bergamo up to 4 April 2020 that they can claim a full refund.
For travel to Turin, Bologna and Verona up to 4 April 2020, they can rebook up to and including 31 May 2020 without the usual change penalties.”
Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte revealed that several public facilities, including schools, museums, gyms and nightclubs will be closed until 3rd April 2020. The new quarantine measures will affect one-quarter of the country’s population.
The spike in Italy’s COVID-19 death rate, now means the country has the second-highest number of confirmed cases after China.
Passengers who have flights booked with British Airways will be able to claim a full refund if they are due to travel to Milan, Venice or Bergamo up to 4th April 2020. Travellers will also be able to rebook their flights without the usual fines if they had plans to travel from 4th April 2020 until 31st May 2020.
Passengers who are due to travel should contact their airline who are responsible for either rebooking, re-routing or providing a full refund on all unused parts of the ticket. policy.
If flights are cancelled and accommodation bookings are affected as a result, holidaymakers should speak to their hotel directly. Most hotel and accommodation providers have strict cancellation policies but may offer to reimburse costs as a gesture of goodwill under the circumstances. It is worth noting that this is not guaranteed, and will vary between accommodation providers.
Those who are unable to recuperate costs are advised to check the cover available under their travel insurance. Cancellation clauses vary from insurer to insurer, however, if the FCO advises against ‘all but essential travel’ to the affected country, some policies may offer cover – provided the policy was purchased before the advice was updated. This will be entirely dependent on individual insurers’ terms and conditions so holidaymakers are advised to check their policy wordings carefully.