Coronavirus: What you should do if you’re heading abroad on holiday

Governments around the world are taking extraordinary measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus.

Sporting and cultural events are being cancelled, regional travel restrictions are in place and some border closures.

So how do these containment measures affect your travel and holiday plans?

Travelling over the next few days?

Keep a close eye on the latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, to check that it is safe to travel to the country and region that you are planning to visit. The webiste provides daily updates and will change its travel advice without notice when a situation deteriorates rapidly.

Check your insurance.  Many of the phonelines are extremely busy so be prepared to hold.

While abroad, keep an eye on Public Health England which will provide advice for people returning to the UK.


Many countries have now introduced screen measures and entry restrictions at border crossings and transport hubs.

Screening measures may include temperature checks, and you could be asked about your general health or recent travel history.  Where these checks identify a concern, further investigations may be required.

What countries are out of bounds? 

For country-specific information, check the FCO travel advice pages for all countries you are planning to visit or transit.

As a result of the ongoing Cornonavirus outbreak, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises against all travel to Hubei Province, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China as well as  Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea and Italy.

While cases of Coronavirus are on the increase, the FCO is not currently advising against travel to any other country/territory as a result of coronavirus risks.

But what if I do need to travel to those locations?

The Association of British Insurance reminds us that anyone travelling to a country or region against government advice risks invalidating their travel insurance.  If you need to travel, speak to your insurer first.

Should I cancel my travel plans?

You can decide whether or not to travel, but you are likely to lose most or all of your money as your decision will be classed as a ‘disinclination to travel’.  Changing your mind is not covered by standard travel insurance policies.

However, if you are advised against travelling by your GP due to the risk of the virus being present in a certain country, contact your travel insurance claims team.

Another possible opportunity to cancel would be if you had booked a package holiday for a specific purpose, for example, to see a sporting event.  If the event is cancelled, your holiday would be regarded as ‘significantly changed’ and you may be entitled to a full refund.

When airlines, cruise providers and train operators run services as normal, they are not legally required to offer a refund or allow you to change your plans.

The advice from the World Health Organisation is to continue with your travel plans.  They say the risk of infection is low in most countries as long as tourists, holidaymakers and business travellers take into account country-specific restrictions.

Flight restrictions

Some airlines have suspended flights to and from China and Italy, or revised their schedules. Other flights may also be affected.

If you’re due to travel on an affected route, keep up to date with the latest information from your travel company or airline.

Cruise no-go areas

Princess Cruises has cancelled all sailings across 18 ships for the next two months.

If your voyage is cancelled, you will be offered a refund or the chance to rebook at a later date. Other cruise lines are changing their routes to avoid the riskier ports, and there may be further disruption to travel as a result of measures taken by individual countries to combat coronavirus. If a ship sails – even with a different route – the cruise line is not legally required to offer compensation.

Train travel restrictions

There have been restrictions on international train travel between Italy and Austria.


What precautions can I take to stop  germs like coronavirus spreading?

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • avoid not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Symptoms of Cornovirus

According to NHS UK, the symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness, and the symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

Published on 28/02/20

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