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UPDATE ON THE CORONAVIRUS SITUATION IN RUSSIA - 6 March 2020

      We’d like to sincerely thank all our partners and customers for the continued support; we greatly value your trust and confidence and appreciate your loyalty. We understand the current situation is causing a lot of worry but the best we all can do is keep calm. It’s business as usual for pretty much everywhere unless the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice has said not to go; and if that happens, travellers booked on package holidays with a licensed tour operator (such as IntoRussia) are entitled to a full refund.

      Despite the difficult situation associated with quarantine imposed by some countries in connection with the spread of Coronavirus, for now please rest assured that we continue to provide services to all groups and individual travellers and to invite tourists to visit Russia. If the situation changes, we will let you know.

      Shops, department stores, attractions, restaurants, museums and tourist spots are open as normal. Most events, sport activities, conferences and exhibitions are proceeding as normal. According to the latest report produced by the Russian government, Russia continues to impose its preventive measure to tackle any possible spread of the virus. The situation is under the strict control of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare.

      As of today, 6th of March, it’s been revealed Russia has a total number of 13 cases, 2 of whom already recovered last month. All the newest cases are reported in people travelling from Italy; there are no cases of virus spread inside Russia.

Russian Government imposed special measure to keep the virus out:

  • *Temporary entrance restrictions for anyone travelling from the territory of Korea, Italy, Iran and China
  • *Russia stopped issuing visas to the citizens of China, Korea and Iran and restricted entry of the citizens of the said countries (including Hong Kong and Macao)
  • *Russia closed most entry points along its 4,200-kilometer border with China and cancelled the international train to Beijing
  • *All passengers arriving to Russian airports have to pass remote thermometry control, located in the passport control zone
  • *Medical supervision is provided for a period of 14 calendar days to all citizens arriving from the COVID-19 clusters. If the symptoms are identified, they will be immediately isolated and hospitalized in specialized medical organizations. The restrictions will continue up to 1st April or longer if necessary
  • *Russia cancelled the European international train Moscow to Niece
  • *Moscow is taking every precautionary measure to keep the virus at bay: Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced a high alert regime ordering self-isolation for Russians returning from China, South Korea, Iran, France, Germany, Italy and Spain
  • *Moscow metro has also begun random checks of passengers' temperatures at station entrances.

As far as citizens of other countries are concerned, Russia does not impose any restrictions of entry. If there is any change in current travel advise, we will notify everyone immediately.

If you’re having second thoughts about a package holiday you’ve booked, or are planning to book with us, as an ABTA approved travel agent we can help you rearrange your trip if your destination becomes unsafe to travel to according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice. More advice at: abta.com/coronavirus

General advice for travellers around the world: ABTA’s consumer advice and Q&A

      Cases of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) have been reported in specific locations in a number of countries throughout the world. Although the overall volume of reported cases is very low, with the majority in China, some destination authorities have introduced enhanced health measures, so it is very important that travellers follow the public health advice relating to a local destination that they are travelling to. Travellers should also keep up to date on local advice during their visit.

      Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the country they are travelling to, which includes entry requirements and a link through to the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) TravelHealthPro website that provides specific travel health advice for countries.

      As a precautionary measure enhanced health screening procedures have been put in place at arrival and departure areas in many countries. Travellers should comply with these processes and take relevant preventative measures to reduce the risk of exposure.

      Some countries have also introduced entry restrictions for people travelling from certain countries, travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice and sign up to email alerts for the country they are travelling to, as these are subject to change at short notice.

      Further information on Coronavirus, including advice on preparing for foreign travel and helping reduce the spread of the virus, is available from Public Health England https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england and on the TravelHealthPro https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Coronavirus Q&A

      The FCO currently advises against all but essential travel to mainland China, Cheongdo in South Korea and 11 towns in Italy (Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo, San Fiorano and Vo’ Euganeo). The FCO also advises against all travel to Daegu in South Korea.

Q: What happens if my travel plans are affected?

A: Your travel plans may be affected in different ways, depending on Foreign Office advice. If the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against travel to a destination and your holiday arrangements have been affected, your travel provider will get in touch and advise you of the options open to you. Travellers are advised to read the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice for the country they are travelling to, which includes a link through to the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) TravelHealthPro website that provides specific travel health advice for countries. The Foreign Office also has a specific page with more information on Coronavirus.

Q: Where the Foreign Office advises against travel to a country or a specific resort or area of a country does my tour operator have to refund the full package or only the parts of my holiday that are cancelled?

A: Tour operators can offer alternative holidays if they are able to. If these mean a significant change to the original arrangements, for example spending the whole or part of the holiday in a different country, you aren’t obliged to accept the alternative and will be entitled to a full refund of the package price.

Q: When am I not entitled to a full refund?

A: The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice is in relation to imminent departures and if you have booked a package and are not due to travel imminently, tour operators will decide on an ongoing basis how far in advance they’ll begin offering alternative arrangements or providing refunds.

Q: What does ‘imminent travel’ mean?

A: There is no legal definition and each company has their own process for managing future departures; however imminent travel is generally considered to be within the next few days.

The safety of travellers is a priority for travel companies, and their decisions will follow Government advice, which is based on their objective assessment of risk. Customers should monitor FCO advice and updates and ensure that your travel provider has up to date contact details so they can get in touch.

If you have concerns about your summer holiday, it is too early to say that your holiday can’t go ahead as planned. Therefore, customers with future departure dates will need to wait to find out whether the advice changes and their holiday can continue as planned. If you cancel early you may have to pay cancellation charges.

Customers with an existing package holiday booked, and those considering making plans, can have confidence that there are protections in place for package holidays should the travel advice to your destination change.

Q: Can I transit through a country or a specific resort or area of a country, such as mainland China, where the FCO’s all but essential travel advice applies?

A: The FCO advises that you do not transit through a country or a specific resort or area of a country, for example, mainland China, whilst all but essential travel advice is in place.

Q: If I cannot follow my initial travel plans due to the Coronavirus outbreak, am I entitled to compensation?

A: You won’t be entitled to any compensation, as the reason for the holiday not continuing is outside the control of the tour operator.

Q: I’ve booked a flight to a country where the Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to a country or a specific resort or area of the country, what are my rights?

A: Speak to your airline or travel provider to check what the airline’s policy is. You should also check your travel insurance to see if this will cover any additional costs.

Q: What if I'm unsure about going on my holiday?

A: Most destinations do not have any British Government advice against travel as a result of Coronavirus, and of course a number of cases have been reported here in the UK. The Government advice is based on its objective assessment of risk and will always put the safety of UK citizens first. The Government will advise against travel to a destination when it judges the level of risk to be unacceptably high. If there is no Government advice against travel to your destination, you’re free to make the choice not to go, but there's no obligation on your holiday company to give you a refund. Normal cancellation charges will apply.

It is highly unlikely that you will be able to claim any cancellation charge on your insurance as there isn’t normally cover for disinclination to travel but you can check the terms of your policy.

The safety of travellers is a priority for travel companies, and their decisions will follow British Government advice – so people can book their package holiday with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they will be looked after should the FCO travel advice change in the destination they are planning to go to.

Q: I have a pre-existing medical condition and do not want to travel – can I get a refund if I cancel my holiday?

A: As with the above advice, you’re free to make the choice not to travel, but if the FCO are not advising against travel to your destination then there is no obligation on your travel company to give you a refund. Normal cancellation charges will apply.

If your GP has advised that you do not travel, and provided you with official documentation to confirm this, then you will need to check the terms of your travel insurance policy to see if you can claim any cancellation charge back.

Q: Countries are introducing entry restrictions and enhanced screening procedures – will this affect me?

A: Some countries are not permitting entry to travellers who have visited mainland China, Iran, South Korea or Italy within 14 days of their arrival. Customers should keep up to date with the latest FCO travel advice updates for the destination they are travelling to, as restrictions can change at short notice. Should any restrictions directly apply to you or members of your party then speak to your travel company to discuss your options.

As a precautionary measure enhanced health screening procedures have been put in place at arrival and departure areas in many countries. Travellers should comply with these processes and take relevant preventative measures to reduce the risk of exposure.

Q: If there are a number of public areas and attractions that have been closed in the destination that I am travelling to – can I get a refund if I cancel my holiday?

A: This would not normally give you the right to a refund. If excursions or attractions that are included in the price of your holiday are closed or can’t go ahead, and this significantly changes your package holiday or impacts your overall experience, then you might be entitled to a refund. If you are aware of such limitations, then speak to your travel company to discuss your options.

Q: What should I do if I have a trip booked to a sports event and the event has been postponed or cancelled?

A: If you have booked your tickets as part of a package holiday and the cancellation of the event means a significant change to your holiday overall then you will be entitled to a refund. If the event has been postponed, you should speak to your travel company about rearranging your trip once the new date has been confirmed.

Q: I’m seeing reports of people being quarantined in their hotel, what does this mean?

A: Local health authorities may decide to impose restrictions on hotel guests while they conduct investigations or carry out tests. These are preventative measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus and customers should comply with instructions given by the health authorities.

Contact us by phone or email today with any queries, to book, or for excellent rates and service on add-ons to your trip.