COVID-19 has been the cause of mass uncertainty and tensions have risen as several countries plan to close their borders.
As Europe has now been declared the new “epicentre of the pandemic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission is putting plans in place to ban all non-essential travel throughout Europe’s Schengen free-travel zone. It is believed many British tourists will face cancellations as travel restrictions come into place for a least 30 days.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, stated, ‘the less travel, the more we can contain the virus’. Countries within the EU have begun implementing travel bans, with French President Emmanuel Macron declaring, ‘all trips between non-European countries and EU countries will be suspended.’
Germany and Cyprus are amongst the most recent in nine European countries to close their borders to UK tourists, whilst the US revealed the UK and Ireland have also been added to its previous travel ban.
Meanwhile, several airlines including British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet have grounded thousands of flights. According to the BBC, Ryanair and easyJet will be grounding most of their fleet, whilst BA owner IAG revealed it is to cut capacity by 75% after chief executive Alex Cruz described the situation as a ‘crisis of global proportions like no other we have known.’ Airlines have seen a dramatic decline in sales in what can only be described as an unprecedented time in aviation, resulting in thousands of cancelled flights and over 7,500 staff axed from Norwegian Air.
Tour operators have also been affected, as travel bans have been put in place for several popular tourist destinations across the world. The BBC says TUI will suspend the “majority” of its operations, which will have a big impact on “package travel, cruises and hotel” bookings.
Passengers who have plans to travel shortly should contact their travel agent, who will be able to amend their travel plans. Holidaymakers should also check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website for the latest advice.
Those who are facing flight cancellations should contact their airline, who will offer a full refund on all unused parts of a ticket or, in some cases, re-arrange travel dates to a safer time of travel.