Half-term holiday travel ban: Are YOU entitled to a refund if new rules ban hotel stays in UK Covid hotspot

BRITS have been warned not to travel to or from UK Covid hotspots just days before the start of half term.

The guidance applies to eight areas after rising cases of the newest variant of coronavirus were identified.

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The areas where these new rules apply are Bedford, Blackburn, Bolton, Burley, Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside.

Ministers are warning people not to enter or leave these areas where the strain is spreading fastest "unless it is essential".

The "essential travel only" restrictions were slapped on the areas today with little warning or fanfare creating confusion.

Anyone who'd ditched a half term holiday abroad for a UK staycation in one of these areas could find their travel plans changing.

Those living in these eight locations who are planning to take a holiday elsewhere in the UK, or abroad, could be affected too.

Here we explain what your refund rights are if you're affected.

Can I get my money back if I can't go on my trip?

The latest rules on travel are guidance and not legal instruction, says Which?, meaning anyone with a booking will not have a legal right to a refund.

Anyone travelling to these areas should contact the hotel about rearranging their booking, or check the terms of their booking to see if they can cancel and get a refund.

If there's no ban on travelling to an area but you no longer want to travel because of Covid concerns, your rights generally depend on the terms and conditions of any booking.

Many hotels and holiday firms have flexible policies because of the pandemic but these vary depending on the provider and you'll have to look at the terms and conditions of your booking.

The most flexible policies will let you rebook for a different time at no extra charge, or give you a refund.

If the new rules did ban stays in hotels or other accommodation in the area by law, then you should get a refund.

Martyn James of Resolver said: "If you are travelling to an area that has been locked down, then you will not be allowed to to take up the booking you've made. So in theory you should get a full refund."

He added: "I've seen some staycation providers be a bit difficult about that over the last year but push back if you want a full refund."

What if I live in one of these areas and have booked a holiday?

If you live in an area affected and are due to go on holiday either abroad or somewhere else in the UK, you can still travel.

You might not want to travel because of the latest guidance though.

If you don't go, you're not automatically entitled to a refund.

Consumer law states that airlines and travel package providers, must give a full cash refund or voucher if your flight is cancelled.

As the flight or holiday is still going ahead – just without you – this is not the case.

But some providers are offering extra flexibility to encourage bookings and you should check your terms and conditions.

This means that if the flight or holiday is going ahead but you can't travel for any reason you won't lose out.

Some package holiday firms and airlines are offering flexible policies that mean you can alter a booking if you are unable to travel.

For example Tui will let you change your booking up to one day before travel for free if you can't go.

First Choice offers the same except you need to give notice of between seven and 28 days and that time period depends on the dates you are meant to travel.

Travel: What are your rights to a refund?

MILLIONS of Brits have had holiday plans cancelled. Here’s what to do if you’re affected.

Firstly, speak to your airline or holiday firm about a refund or rearranging your plans.

You are entitled to a cash refund if it's cancelled your holiday but many have large delays processing cash or may offer vouchers instead.

If the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to countries or regions, you may also be covered for cancellations by your travel insurance if the holiday provider or airline is not helping you.

Keep in mind travel insurance must have been taken out before the FCDO advice changed, otherwise you won't be covered.

If you don't have travel insurance or the excess on your insurance is so high it's not worth claiming, you may be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.

Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.

To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.

Debit card claims or credit card claims of under £100 may be covered under similar Chargeback guarantees.

The terms and conditions of your booking will tell you what you are entitled to and how it works.

Even when you are entitled to your money back, it's worth noting there may still be delays to getting your cash.

While far fewer people are likely to be affected by the latest rules compared to when national lockdowns were introduced, some companies have been slow to provide refunds because of the pandemic.

Will travel insurance cover me?

Last year, many insurance firms changed the small print of their travel policies to exclude coronavirus-related issues.

But many have adapted their policies to include Covid-19 woes, including cancellations and illness related costs.

However, what you're covered for depends on the policy – usually the more you pay the more you're covered for.

Most insurers will now cover your medical costs if you contract the virus while on holiday, but only a few will payout for cancellations.

 The majority will not cover you if you travel against Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice.

Only one in 10 will cover you if a positive or missed Covid tests prevents you from boarding a flight, reports the BBC, so it's important to check the small print.

Martin Lewis has urged holidaymakers to shop around for Covid tests before travelling abroad to get the cheapest price.

Read our guide on how to protect your cash if you're booking a summer holiday.

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