So a dark cloud hangs over sun holidays abroad for people from Ireland this summer.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said people who have booked a getaway abroad should more or less abandon taking the trip because of the risk of picking up Covid-19 and bringing it back here.
A The advice for months now is that people should avoid non-essential travel abroad. There has been no ban on travelling but the vast majority of people have not been taking foreign trips. It has meant that the risk of importing Covid-19 here from another country has been minimal.
A Yes, back in February the first batch of cases of the virus were diagnosed in people who had been on skiing holidays in Italy and Austria.
They were infected abroad and ended up passing it on to others. It was early days in knowledge of the virus so people were unwittingly spreading it.It got into the community and was difficult to control leading to lockdown and restrictions.
A Inevitably, the summer has led to more air travel and this is reflected in a rise in people arriving here who are testing positive for the virus. The numbers are still low enough but they are rising and it is a trend that needs to be monitored.
A The UK, Sweden, Portugal, Paskistan and Iraq have been mentioned. It is unclear how many are people from Ireland returning home or tourists from abroad. It has led to number of clusters where they have infected others?
A Yes, but it is not mandatory. They fill out a locator form with their phone numbers but nobody actually visits their location to check if they are self isolating.
A Tony Holohan has spoken of the individual and the collective. The person travelling might recover from the virus but they could pass it on to somebody vulnerable.
A If you combine the rise in foreign travel with the reopening of so many businesses and the increased movement of people it means there is more scope for the virus to spread.
A This list is due early next month. It would match Ireland with countries which have low levels of virus .It would mean tourists from both countries could travel back and forth without restrictions like the two week quarantine.
A As of now France, Italy , Spain, Portugal and the UK would not make it. Countries like Greece and Finland could qualify . The problem is that an outbreak in any of these countries could change their status. It will have to be updated every two weeks.
A They would have passed a certain check list but no country is entirely free of the virus. There are also risks such as travelling through airports etc. Also people don’t know how well safety restrictions are being followed until they get to their destinations. There will be other holidaymakers from countries with higher incidences of virus there also and they could find themselves in a place where they have little control.
A That seems to be the guidance this summer. A holiday abroad may not be worth the hassle but it is a matter for individual judgment.
If someone does holiday abroad and return here they should self quarantine for two weeks. If they cannot do that because of work or other commitments then it might be advisable to just holiday in this country.There is the added satisfaction that they are contributing to our own economy which was so badly hit by lockdown.
A If you cancel a package holiday due to Covid-19 or because the State’s chief medical officer said you should you may lose out.
“If you have a deposit down and you pull out, it's a problem to you as the consumer because you are breaking the contract,” the CAI's Dermott Jewell explains.
Cancelling a trip before a tour operator or airline does means you could lose your deposit, some or all of your payment, or pay a cancellation fee.
If you sit tight and wait, however, you are likely to be in a stronger position if and when cancellations do kick in - for refunds, rebooking options and vouchers.
A Your first recourse for refunds or re-bookings should be your airline or travel agent.
From there, robust travel insurance policies can provide compensation for money lost on hotels or other bookings, but there needs to be a strong reason - such as a Department of Foreign Affairs warning against travel.
Insurers won't provide cover if you simply don't want to travel, what they call a disinclination to travel.
In taking out a policy, check that it includes government travel advice and/or travel disruption cover (an optional extra) to help recoup from cancellations in events like this, as well as strikes and terror attacks etc.
Also check what its exceptions are for Covid-19 or pandemics.
“The insurance element is probably more key than it's ever been,” Dermott Jewell says. “You’ve got to ensure that you are not only insured to be there and be safe, but that you're insured to get home.”
Ciarán Mulligan of Blue Insurance says that there is a blanket exclusion on Covid-19-related claims for policies taken out after March 13.
He says that for policies in place before that date, and which include government travel advice and/or travel disruption cover a Covid-related claim can be made if the airline or accommodation provider will not pay out. Airlines are obliged to refund you if the flight is not travelling and if they offer you a voucher even though they are flying consumers should consider this.
But he stressed that the policy only takes into account advice or warnings from the Department of Foreign Affairs, and will not entertain claims made on the basis of advice from the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.
Blue Insurance is currently in negotiations with their underwriters about providing cancellation cover for Covid-19 for new holidays and expect to have news on this next week, Mr Mulligan said.
Existing policies will cover medical expenses claims including for Covid-19 once the Department of Foreign Affairs advises it is safe to travel to a region or country.
A Strictly speaking, the airline is within its rights not to refund you. If the flight is operating, its part of the contract can be fulfilled.
In practise, however, you can avail of change fee waivers to reschedule (though bear in mind that you will be liable for any fare difference).
New worldwide cases of the Covid-19 infection have yet to peak. The situation in Europe is mixed - most countries are reporting declines in both cases and fatalities but there have been several renewed outbreaks, including some in Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany and around the Portuguese city of Lisbon. Cases and fatalities have been on a falling trend in the Republic and in Northern Ireland. The figures have been comparable in both parts of Ireland and less severe than in England.
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