MSE News

Travel between the US and Europe to be suspended due to coronavirus

Travel between the US and Europe to be suspended due to coronavirus

All travel between the United States and most of Europe will be suspended for 30 days due to coronavirus, US President Donald Trump has announced. Travel from the UK and Ireland ISN'T affected – though if you've recently been to Europe or are flying via a European country, you may not be able to travel.

Update Saturday 14 March: The US is due to extend the travel ban to people from the UK and Ireland from 3.59am GMT on Tuesday. This news story is no longer being updated. See our Covid-19 Coronavirus Help guide for the latest info.

President Trump made the announcement on Wednesday evening, with US officials later confirming that the new travel restrictions will apply to most foreign nationals who had been to any of the 26 countries in the 'Schengen area' at any point in the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival in the United States.

The area includes France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece and others, but not the UK and Ireland.

The ban will start at 11.59pm on Friday (3.59am on Saturday in the UK). It won't apply to legal permanent US residents, immediate family of US citizens and a few exceptions, such as air crew travelling on certain visas.

It's not yet clear whether the ban will apply to travellers who fly to the US from the UK with a stopover in the Schengen area, though it may. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK said this was a matter for US Homeland Security – we've asked it and will update this story when we hear back.

Trump said the US would monitor the situation to determine if travel could be reopened earlier than the 30-day period.

See our Covid-19 Coronavirus Help guide for more info on travel insurance, sick pay rights and more.

I've a trip booked to the US – will I be able to go?

The travel suspension doesn't apply to the UK, but if you've been to a Schengen area country in the 14 days prior to your arrival in the US, this ban will apply to you.

At the moment, the US government will also not permit entry to any foreign nationals who have visited China within 14 days of travelling to the USA.

The countries in the Schengen area are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

As above, we're checking if this will also affect UK travellers who are flying via a European country and will update this story when we know for sure.

If I can't enter the US, will my airline refund me?

Given the restrictions applied by the US, many travellers who have already booked flights will be unable to take them, as they won't be able to enter the US. We've asked BA, Norwegian and Virgin Atlantic if they'll be refunding customers in this situation or allowing them to change the date of their booking.

  • Norwegian says it's too early to give a blanket answer.

  • BA and Virgin Atlantic haven't yet got back to us, but BA's website says that given countries have started implementing travel bans, if you're unable to travel, you should contact it on 0800 727 800 from within the UK, or +44 (0)203 250 0145 from outside the UK, where you can discuss your travel options.

If I can't enter the US, will my travel insurance cover me?

The level of cover you have will depend on your insurer and policy, so the best bet is to check directly with your insurer to see if you're covered. 

Last week, we asked major travel insurers if they'd cover you for the costs of your holiday if you were denied entry to a country because you'd previously been to a coronavirus-affected country. Unfortunately, every insurer we spoke to said they wouldn't cover you.

However, earlier this week, we specifically asked insurers if they would cover the costs of your holiday in the hypothetical scenario that the US banned UK citizens from entry. While this is not exactly what has happened, the responses give a flavour of which insurers might cover you:

  • Three insurers said you WOULD be covered if UK citizens were barred. The AA and Axa told us that if a "regulatory authority" put advice in place, they would cover holiday costs. Meanwhile Coverwise told us customers would be covered if they were not "able to get to their intended destination".

  • Five insurers said you MIGHT be covered if UK citizens were barred. Aviva and Virgin Money said they would look at situations on a case-by-case basis, while Direct Line, Churchill and Nationwide, which have the same underwriter, told us customers should speak to their travel providers for the options available to them as they couldn't confirm what cover was available until customers had this information.

  • Three insurers said you WOULDN'T be covered if UK citizens were barred. Allianz AssistancePlanet Earth and Post Office told us there was no cover in this situation.

We'll be continuing to follow this fast-developing situation closely. For all the latest, see our Covid-19 Coronavirus Help guide.