Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra are back on the UK's travel exclusion list
Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra are the latest countries to be added back on to the UK's travel exclusion list, after the Government announced anyone arriving from any of these three nations must quarantine for 14 days. It's also advised against all non-essential travel to the countries.
The Government announced on Thursday evening that the new advice would apply from 4am on Saturday 8 August for travellers returning to England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. For travellers returning to Wales, it's already in place. Anyone returning to Wales from one of these three countries since 00.01am on Friday 7 August will need to quarantine for 14 days.
Here's what's happening:
- Travellers arriving from Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra must quarantine for two weeks. This includes returning British holidaymakers, and applies from Saturday 8 August onwards to those arriving in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. For arrivals in Wales, it's already in place. For more on what this involves, see how does quarantine in the UK work?
- The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is now warning against all non-essential travel to all three countries. An FCO warning is often a key trigger for travel insurance – for example, it means if you decide to travel anyway, your insurance is unlikely to cover you.
- Brits AREN'T being told to come home early. The FCO is NOT advising UK travellers already on a trip to Belgium, the Bahamas or Andorra to cut short their trip and return early at this stage.
While these three countries have been added to the UK's travel exclusion list, Malaysia and Brunei have been taken off it. That means that travellers returning to the UK from these countries after Tuesday 11 August won't have to quarantine for 14 days on their return. Both countries had already had their FCO travel warning removed.
For full help on your travel rights in a similar situation, see our Spain Travel Help guide, and for general info on travel insurance, holiday refunds and more, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.
I had a trip booked but it's been cancelled – what are my rights?
The good news is if your flight or package holiday is cancelled by a travel firm, it has to refund you in full by law. For more help, see cancelled package holiday refunds and cancelled flight refunds.
Hotel stays booked directly are unlikely to be cancelled. If they are, there's no specific regulation governing these like there is with package travel and flights. You'd likely be owed a refund, but it would depend on local law.
I've a trip booked and it's NOT been cancelled – what are my rights?
Here the answer depends on what kind of trip you have booked. You have the right to get a full refund if you have a package holiday booked and there's an FCO warning in place at the time you travel – see help if your package holiday hasn't been cancelled for full details.
For trips where it's not a package holiday and your flights are still running, it's unlikely the airline will owe you a refund. If you have travel insurance, it's worth checking if you're covered.
Failing that, it's worth checking what your airline will offer. Many will let you rebook or offer a refund credit note, which may be worth taking if it's your best option. In some cases, sadly it's possible that you may be left out of pocket.
I've a future trip booked but it's a way off – what should I do?
If you've a trip to any of the three countries booked but it's not leaving in the next few weeks, then you may be best off waiting to see what happens.
Don't cancel your trip yourself until the very last minute if you can avoid it. Cancelling means you have no rights to a refund in most cases. It is far better for the airline or travel firm to cancel the trip – then you have more rights. As this is a fast-moving situation, it is possible that the FCO guidance and quarantine rules could change again, in which case your trip could be back on. See our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide for more help.
I still want to go on my trip – can I?
Theoretically, yes. But be extremely wary of doing so. Not only is there the heightened risk of catching coronavirus, but most travel insurance policies won't cover you if you go on a trip to a destination the FCO is advising against non-essential travel to, meaning you won't be covered if you do go, even if it's unrelated to coronavirus.
What are the rules on 14-day quarantine?
If you arrive in England from Belgium, the Bahamas or Andorra, you will not be allowed to leave the place where you're staying for the first 14 days, and if you do not self-isolate, you can be fined £1,000 (the rules are similar but with slightly different specifics in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
You should not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential care, and you cannot go out to work or school or visit public areas. You should not go shopping and you must only exercise within your home or garden.
Those you share a home with will not have to self-isolate unless they travelled with you, but the Government says you should avoid contact with them as much as possible.
For many, being required to self-isolate for two weeks on return to the UK will be a huge issue – especially for those who are already in Belgium, the Bahamas or Andorra and about to return, and weren't warned of any quarantine when they first went on holiday. Unfortunately, your rights in this situation are not clear-cut.
The official line from the Government is that you aren't entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) if you have to quarantine after returning to the UK. So you may have to rely on the goodwill of your employer if you cannot work while quarantining.
Speak to your employer as soon as you can to work out what's possible. If you can work from home, that may be one solution – alternatively, you may be able to take extra holiday, or some employers may agree to pay you sick pay.
We asked the Government for exactly what your rights are in this situation, and a spokesperson said: "We urge employers to show flexibility to employees who will have to self-isolate due to the changes to quarantine rules. No employee should be penalised for following the rules and self-isolating."
They also added that should an employee be dismissed for quarantining, they may be able to take their employer to a tribunal to rule on whether the dismissal was fair. In determining whether a dismissal is fair, a tribunal will take account of the entirety of the situation – this could include whether the employee was legally required to quarantine following a return from holiday, along with any other relevant factors relating to their absence.
They said that if an employee cannot do their job from home, they could request extra annual leave to cover the 14 days of self-isolation, and if their annual leave request is refused, their employer may agree to let them take unpaid leave.
Sadly, you're unlikely to be covered for any loss of earnings through your travel insurance – the Association of British Insurers says this isn't something travel insurance is designed to cover.