PORTUGAL has been taken off the green travel list today, throwing thousands of holidaymakers into chaos.
Travel Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the news this afternoon ahead of the Government’s three-week review of countries it deems safe for Brits to visit.
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It means anyone coming back from Portugal after 4pm on Tuesday will now have to isolate for 10 days when they get home.
Mr Shapps told Sky: “I want to be straight with people – this is a difficult decision to make but in the end we’ve seen two things that’s caused concern.
“One is the positivity rate that has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal.
“The other is there’s a sort of Nepal mutation of the Indian variant that’s been detected and we just don’t know the potential for that to be a vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don’t want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock.”
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.
Hopes for popular holiday destinations, such as the Spanish islands, to be moved onto the green list have also been dashed amid reports no new countries are to be added.
And The Sun can exclusively reveal that Egypt and Sri Lanka are set to be added to the red list in another holiday blow.
More than 100,000 flights are scheduled to depart from the UK to Portugal in June but for some holidaymakers the extra restrictions will mean their trips can’t go ahead any more.
Your right to a refund depends on the advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and not the Government’s traffic light system.
This is because the assessed risk factors for travel are different – sometimes the FCDO will deem a country safe, even though it’s on the amber list.
While FCDO advice has not changed, it’s this advice that holiday firms use to assess whether a holiday can go ahead.
If the FCDO advises against travel to Portugal, then you will be entitled to your money back from a package holiday provider.
But if it doesn’t, you’ll need to rely on your holiday provider’s policy. We explain more below.
EasyJet will only issue a cash refund or voucher if your flight has been cancelled by the airline.
You won’t be able to get your money back if you decide you no longer want to go.
Passengers are able to transfer their flights for free anytime up to two hours before departure for bookings made before September 30.
If the flights are more expensive than the original booking you’ll need to fork out for the difference.
EasyJet Holidays will only refund customers if Portugal is moved to the FCDO’s banned travel list.
Otherwise, customers can amend their booking up to 24 hours before departure for free.
Again, you’ll need to pay the difference if the rescheduled trip is more expensive.
You can find out more about easyJet’s Covid Commitments here.
Ryanair will not issue refunds for flights booked to countries that are moved onto the Government’s amber list unless they are cancelled by the airline.
However, it has waived its flight change charges so customers can reschedule their trip if they can no longer go.
This must be done at least seven days before the original scheduled departure date and you’ll have to stump up the extra cash if the trip is more expensive.
The flexi-policy only applies to trips booked after June 10 2020 and before September 30 2021 and you must have departed for your rescheduled trip before December 21 2021.
They can only be moved for up to a maximum of two times.
Otherwise, you’ll have to forfeit the cost of the flight. You can read more about Ryanair’s policy here.
Tui will only refund customers if the FCDO advises against travel to Portugal, even though it’s been moved to the amber list.
However, customers can amend their booking free of charge if they are no longer able to go ahead with their trip because they don’t want to or can’t self-isolate.
Will my travel insurance cover me?
CONSUMER group Which? warns not all travel insurance policies offer full cover for holidays that can’t go ahead due to Covid.
For example, they might cover you if you fall ill with coronavirus but not if you’re told to quarantine by NHS Test and Trace when your due to depart.
“As a (very) general rule, insurance covers you for unexpected events or things out of your control, not for changing your mind,” said Mr James.
“So if you want to leave a holiday because it looks like the country you are in is going on the red list, you may not be able to claim any costs.”
This is why it’s important to check the small print before purchasing a policy.
Holidaymakers should also be aware that travel insurance taken out for a green list trip may no longer be valid if you decide to go ahead with it, despite it being moved to the amber or red list.
In particular, this will affect countries that the FCDO advises against travelling to.
Heading to these countries against FCDO advice will mean you’re not covered if you have an accident, get ill or lose your luggage when abroad.
However, some travel insurance policies may still cover you if the government has moved it to the amber list but there’s isn’t an FCDO travel ban in place.
You should check your policy and speak to your provider to see where your insurer stands on this.
You will need to pay the difference though if the rescheduled trip is more expensive, or you’ll be issued a partial refund if it’s cheaper.
You can find out more about Tui’s rebooking policies here.
British Airways Holidays will only offer a refund on trips moved from the green list if the FCDO advises against travel.
Otherwise, customers can change the destination or date of their holiday for free, although you’ll have to pay the difference if it’s more expensive.
Customer may also be offered a voucher worth the amount they paid which can be used to book another trip through the firm in the future.
British Airways airline will only refund for flights if they’re cancelled.
Otherwise, customers can ask for a credit voucher that can be used towards rebooking the trip at a later date, as long as the holiday will be complete by April 30, 2023.
Read more on British Airways booking policy here.
Jet2holidays has cancelled all package holidays up to June 23, with hopes to restart them again from June 24.
In a message on its website, the travel firm says it will review its own travel refund policies following the Government’s review.
But it added that any holiday due to depart for an amber list country before July 18 can be amended for free.
Jet2 will only issue a refund for flights if they’re cancelled, which is unlikely even though Portugal has been moved to the amber list.
Again, flights aren’t due to restart until June 24 but it will update and amend its policies after it has had an update from the Government.
You can read more about Jet2’s Traffic Light Policy here.
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Although holiday providers are legally obliged to issue a refund if they have had to cancel trips, not all have been playing by the rules.
It’s caused the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to step in and carry out its own investigations.
So far, both Love Holidays and Teletext have been ordered to return millions of pounds to hundreds of thousands of customers.