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Coronavirus: UK government could compensate people for cancelled travel plans amid new measures

Suban Abdulla
·3 min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 20: UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock speaks to press outside BBC headquarters in London, England on December 20, 2020. (Photo by Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock speaks to press outside BBC headquarters in London, England on December 20, 2020. Photo: Tayfun Salci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Britain’s health secretary Matt Hancock has said that the UK government is looking into compensating people whose travel plans were scrapped due to the new coronavirus restrictions.

Speaking to Times Radio, Hancock said the Treasury and the Department for Transport were looking at the options after last minute changes to the rules.

“That is something that the Treasury and the Department for Transport are looking at, because we understand the point that people are making,” he said.

The news comes after several European countries, including the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Italy announced bans on flights from the UK due to fears over a new variant of the coronavirus, which could be 70% more infectious.

The Dutch government has confirmed at least one case of the same strain that has prompted parts of Britain to return to lockdown rules.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said that he would waive admin fees for those having to alter their travel plans over the Christmas period due the changing government guidance. This means that people do not lose out financially on non-refundable tickets by following the new guidance for the festive period.

Eurostar's trains between Belgium and the UK have been cancelled from Monday, Dec 21, following the Belgian government's announcement that borders with the UK will close at midnight on Dec 20.

There will be no trains running between London, Brussels and Amsterdam. But trains will continue to operate on the Paris route.

Meanwhile, tour operator TUI (TUI.AG) has cancelled all flights out of London Luton airport as it falls under the new Tier 4 measures.

But, TUI will “continue to operate out of Gatwick and Stansted which are located in tier two areas,” the company said.

A company spokesperson added: "Any customers that live in tier four and are due to depart in the next 14 days will be entitled to cancel and receive a full refund or amend for free to any holiday that's currently on sale."

READ MORE: European countries ban flights from UK due to fast-spreading new COVID-19 strain

On Saturday, prime minister Boris Johnson announced stricter coronavirus measures in London, the South East and East of England during a press conference amid concerns about the spread of a new strain of the virus which may be up to 70% more transmissible.

Johnson introduced a fourth tier of COVID-19 restrictions in the regions, as well as unveiling tighter plans around households gathering during Christmas. The new measures will see 18 million people in the country put under severe restrictions until the end of the year.

The devolved governments of Wales and Scotland Wales also announced new measures.

All of Wales will be placed into the highest level of lockdown (tier 4) with all non-essential shops closing. While, cross-border travel has been banned in Scotland. Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said there would be a strict travel ban from Scotland to the rest of the UK throughout the festive season.

Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?