Coronavirus: Holidaymakers who cancel summer trips to Italy over Covid-19 fears face losing money
UK holidaymakers who have booked summer trips to Italy face losing money if they want to cancel now because of the coronavirus, a travel trade association has warned.
Abta said people who have paid for package holidays not due to begin in the next few days will need to wait to see if the situation changes.
On Sunday, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its stance to advise against all but essential travel to parts of northern Italy, including Venice, Milan and Parma.
Anyone imminently due to visit the locations named by the FCO on a package holiday should be offered alternative arrangements by their travel provider and a full refund if there are no suitable options.
If a tour operator refuses, customers may be entitled to compensation under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 regulations.
But Abta said ‘it is too early’ to say that summer holidays cannot go ahead as planned.
‘If you cancel early you may have to pay cancellation charges,’ it added.
Approximately three million British nationals visit Italy every year.
Anyone who has booked flights or accommodation directly should contact their airline and accommodation provider to see what flexibility they are offering.
They should also check their travel insurance as it may cover non-refundable cancellation costs for trips to areas where the FCO is advising against all but essential travel.
Around 16 million people - more than a quarter of the Italian population - are in a state of lockdown until April 3 as the infection rate of Covid-19 continues to rise.
But British nationals are able to leave Italy without restriction.
The Government advice for anyone returning to the UK from locked-down areas in the last 14 days is to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, even if they do not have symptoms of the coronavirus.
Some flights continue to operate between the UK and Italy, although many have been cancelled.
EasyJet said it would be reviewing its flying programme to Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona airports from now until April 3.
‘In the short term we will be cancelling a number of flights to and from these destinations on Monday 9 March,’ the airline said.
British Airways said it is also ‘reviewing our schedule’ and had contacted all passengers due to travel to or from northern Italy on Monday.
Ryanair has said it is not planning to cancel any routes, saying instead: ‘We are following guidelines issued by the Italian government and the World Health Organisation.’
The extraordinary measures put in place across central and northern Italy include the closure of museums, cultural institutions and the suspension of all public gatherings and social events, including pubs, nightclubs and games halls.
Religious ceremonies and funerals have been suspended, and ski facilities in the affected mountain areas are closed.
More widely across Italy, museums, including in the Vatican, are closed and all sporting fixtures must be played behind closed doors.
Childcare facilities, schools and universities are closed until March 15.
The FCO said public and social gatherings in the country should be avoided, with cinemas, pubs and clubs closed, while restaurants and bars remain open with reduced seating.