Government warns against non-essential travel to Italy – here's what you need to know
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has extended its coronavirus travel advice to warn against all but essential travel to the whole of Italy after the Italian authorities imposed a lockdown. We've full help if you have an upcoming trip to an affected area.
The Government's coronavirus-related travel advice for Italy had initially only warned against non-essential travel to 11 small towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions.
But over the weekend, Italian authorities imposed a lockdown of 16 million people in northern Italy until Friday 3 April in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. This was then extended to the whole of Italy yesterday. As well movement in and out of affected areas being restricted, schools and universities have been temporarily closed and public gatherings banned.
The FCO is now advising against all but essential travel to the whole of Italy though British nationals are still able to leave the areas to return home.
For full and constantly updated info on travel insurance, holiday bookings and more during the coronavirus outbreak, see our Covid-19 Coronavirus Help guide.
I'm currently in Italy – what should I do?
The FCO says that British nationals can still leave Italy without restrictions, but you should double-check your flight details with your airline.
If you're returning to the UK from Italy, or you've done so since Monday 9 March, the Department of Health and Social Care says you should self-isolate even if you're not showing any symptoms. This involves staying indoors and avoiding contact with others. You can use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service for more info on your next steps.
If you're told to self-isolate, employment body the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) says it's "good practice" for your employer to pay your usual sick pay as outlined in your contract (those who actually become ill from coronavirus must be given their usual contractual sick pay).
But the Government's indicated that you should get statutory sick pay (currently £94.25 a week) as a minimum if you're told to self-isolate. The Prime Minister also recently indicated that it will soon be paid from the first day of sickness, and not from the fourth.
We've full info on your sick pay rights if you're returning from an affected area in our full coronavirus guide.
Due to travel? Check with your airline first
If you're due to travel to Italy, the first thing to do is to check your airline's policy.
Some airlines have announced flight cancellations or optional refunds for those who no longer wish to travel. Check with your travel operator directly, but here are some examples of what different airlines have said:
- British Airways has cancelled some flights to Italy and said that if you’re booked to travel between London and any Italian destination up to Saturday 4 April, you have the option to refund your ticket or rebook on to another flight for later travel.
- Easyjet has cancelled a number of flights to and from Italy, and will be offering affected passengers the choice between a refund and rebooking their flights.
However, it said on Sunday that its T&Cs around refunds and fees remain the same – meaning that if your flight is going ahead and you choose not to travel, you won't be given a refund.
Other losses? Contact suppliers and check your insurance
If you have a trip booked to an affected area but your travel company isn't offering refunds, or you're facing other consequential losses, your travel insurer will usually cover any non-refundable costs due to the Government warning. This isn't guaranteed though – we've more guidance on different insurers' coronavirus policies in our full guide.
If you have additional bookings, such as accommodation or event tickets, you can also check with the supplier directly first to see if it will offer a refund as a goodwill gesture.
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