Travel ban: Major confusion as Britons told to define ‘essential travel’ themselves

This week, six new countries have been axed from the UK travel corridor list, sending the holiday industry into chaos as Britons scrambled to get refunds for their impending plans. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has since reinstated its non-essential travel advisory warning to a number of destinations, including Spain and France, but is leaving it up to Britons to decide what is “essential”.

According to the FCO website: “Sometimes we say that only essential travel is advised.

“Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision.

“You may have urgent family or business commitments to attend to. Circumstances differ from person to person. Only you can make an informed decision based on the risks.”

Though it might seem obvious to some, others have argued that “essential” travel varies person-to-person.

One Twitter user wrote: “Some travel is essential. (You feel your holiday is)

“People’s personal definition of what is essential varies.”

Another holidaymaker tweeted: “Well our holiday is in four weeks to Greece, they can do what they want but ours is essential travel. BECAUSE WE WANT TO. End of.”

With a lack of clear instruction, many Britons might choose to jet off and face the mandatory quarantine period upon return.

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Though Britons are advised not to travel, many airlines are still departing for banned destinations.

For example, easyJet has said it will continue to operate a “full schedule” in the coming days, meaning travel is still possible for those who deem the journey “necessary”.

A spokesperson for the budget airline said: “easyJet notes the government’s decision to impose a quarantine requirement for those travelling from France, Malta and the Netherlands.

“We plan to operate our full schedule in the coming days.”

However, Britons who do choose to jet off amid the sudden FCO guidance change do so at a risk.

Many travel insurance providers will not provide coverage for holidaymakers who choose to go ahead with plans in spite of a ban.

“For customers who haven’t yet travelled, visiting a country after the FCO has advised against non-essential travel would make their travel insurance invalid,” Antony Martin, managing director at Insurefor.com told Express.co.uk.

Similarly, FCO explains: “Many travel insurance policies will not cover you if you travel to a high-risk destination (often defined as a place where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel or all travel), so make sure you check your policy wording and the relevant country travel advice pages for updates when booking your trip and buying insurance.”

Patrick Ikhena, head of travel at comparethemarket.com issued a vital warning for those hoping to go ahead with plans.

He said: “Those who still plan to travel despite the requirements to quarantine upon return should contact their insurer to explore their options and ascertain their level of cover.

“Generally speaking, if the FCO has not explicitly stated that you shouldn’t travel to these regions, but you decide not to travel due to quarantine requirements, this will be deemed ‘disinclination to travel’ and you are unlikely to be covered by your policy.”

Nicky Kelvin, director of content for The Points Guy UK added: “In the case something goes wrong you may be paying out of pocket.”

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