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Travel

Travel: When will travel restrictions be lifted in the UK?

The current advice on travel restrictions being lifted from the Foreign Office states: “As countries respond to the COVId-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available. Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.

When will travel restrictions be lifted in the UK?

The current travel advice from the Government is to avoid all but essential travel for the foreseeable future. 

No dates have been confirmed for when domestic and international travel will resume. 

Britain’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, warned he wouldn’t be “booking a summer holiday at this point” as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. 

While all flights in May have been cancelled, excluding repatriation and cargo flights, airlines are expected to resume their normal flight ahead of the peak July and August season.

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A spokesperson for the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) said: “If luck is on our side, then three months hence should see things calm down on the virus front. 

“It’s likely that the first travellers within the UK will venture out again to explore their own country at the traditional start of the summer season.”

However, it will also depend on each country’s individual lockdown policy and when they are willing to allow tourists once more. 

Director of Product at TUI, Mark Hall told The Sun: “Whilst it’s difficult to predict, we do think that autumn and winter getaways could prove more popular than ever as people still wan their yearly holiday. 

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“We may see more late bookers as people cautiously search for the best deals and popular family destinations.

“Family favourites such as Florida, mainland Spain and the Canaries are still top on searched destinations and we may see a demand for Caribbean holidays for winter sun at the end of 2020 and into 2021.”

If you are looking to book a holiday, it’s worth going for an ATOL protected one, which means you are covered by a refund or a credit note if the holiday does not go ahead.

When can I travel to Spain?

Spain has begun lifting their lockdown measures, and have announced that they will be lifting restrictions by province, as opposed to region. 

A tourism company in Benidorm said that a spike in bookings for July and August would be welcome news for the industry – although it may be longer until Brits can go back. 

President of Benidorm’s British Businesses Association, Karen Maling Cowles said: “I don’t personally think that we’re going to start recovering from this until June or July and even that’s maybe early. But British tourism I don’t see happening until September. 

“Because the UK is still so far behind Spain and until you have it contained, people won’t be allowed to come and have their week in Benidorm.”

The Balearic Islands have issued a similar statement, with their Tourism minister Iago Negueruela saying the UK is in a “different position”. 

He said: “There are countries like the United Kingdom that have taken too long to adopt containment measures and that also puts us in a different situation, with respect to them.”

Sean McCauley from Hoiiday Extras told The Sun: “Airlines are bringing forward their 2020/21 winter schedules so people can book to fly then. 

“That’s sensible for customers who are looking ahead to the end of the current crisis, and good for everyone to have something to look forward to even if it’s towards the end of the year.”

He added: “But like most travel businesses, we appreciate that people are cautious about making plans until the situation resolves, so we’re glad to see so much flexibility and forward planning in our industry.”

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Travel

Pound to euro exchange rate: Sterling remains solid against euro as UK lockdown continues

The pound to euro exchange rate initially had a good start to the week which soared over the Easter weekend. Since then, the GBP has taken a hit as the UK coronavirus death toll continued to spike which in turn soured risk appetite.

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The pound is currently trading at a rate of 1.1498 against the euro according to Bloomberg at the time of writing.

Michael Brown, Currency Expert at Caxton FX, spoke to Express.co.uk to offer his exclusive insight.

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“Sterling traded sideways against the euro on Thursday, as investors continued to monitor the latest coronavirus developments, including the UK announcing a three-week long extension to the present lockdown period.

“Today, the virus will remain in focus, with risk appetite having the potential to sour into the weekend as investors close out positions.”

With the coronavirus still the main focus of trading, it is unclear whether the lockdown extension will have a drastic impact or whether it will stabilise the market.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab made the announcement during the daily No 10 briefing which concluded that relaxing measures would in fact pose a risk to the public.

He said during the briefing, “We still don’t have the infection rate down as far as we need to.”

Yesterday, the death toll in the UK hit 13,729 while cases teetered over 103,000.

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Residents in the UK are still required to stay at home and limit their outdoor activity.

The new measures were put in place to make sure the NHS could cope and make sure the death rate falls consistently.

However, UK Currency Strategist from Western Union Business Solutions, George Vessey said “lingering Brexit uncertainty” could also see the pound “sold off”.

He said: “After hitting a fresh 1-month high of $1.2646, GBP/USD took a U-turn nearly bang on the 200-day moving average, which often acts as a magnet before proving a strong level of resistance.

“Consequently, and in line with the risk aversion that swept across markets, GBP/USD fell over two cents yesterday.

“Is this the top for sterling or just a temporary blip before scaling higher?

“The panic fuelled plunge in the pound last month was tamed by the extensive fiscal and monetary stimulus that helped to calm turbulent markets.

“The recovery since then for sterling has been well received by British importers, alarmed at the rate at which sterling had fallen in such a short space of time.

“The upside appears limited from here though, particularly since lockdown in the UK is expected to be extended, raising fears of a 35 percent fall in GDP this quarter.

“This, combined with lingering Brexit uncertainty regarding a UK-EU trade agreement, could see the pound sold-off amid increasing risk averse conditions.

“The trading range of GBP/USD over the past four weeks has exceeded 13 percent, the pair is down six percent year-to-date but just about in positive territory for the month of April, which it usually ends in the green.”

Chief Brexit negotiator David Frost had a meeting with Michel Barnier earlier this week over a video call.

They agreed to hold three further rounds of trade talks.

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Travel

Spain lifts some travel restrictions sparking hope for Britons’ future holidays

Spain is a very popular holiday destination with Britons due to its sunny weather and stunning resorts. But recently due to the coronavirus outbreak, Spain has been forced into a state of emergency.

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Like the UK, the country was put into a nation-wide lockdown which was enforced by the Spanish government.

The country is now starting to lift some of its stringent restrictions.

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Although the government has said that the lockdown measures will remain in place until May 3.

What restrictions have been lifted and what does this mean for holidays in Spain?

Some non-essential industry workers have returned to work which includes those who work in manufacturing but they still have to follow very strict safety regulations.

The rest of Spain has been asked to work from home which means that schools and restaurants still remain closed.

Like the UK, most shops will remain closed except for supermarkets, butchers, pharmacies, bakeries and newsstands.

The reason Spain has been able to lift some of its stricter lockdown rules is because the country reported its lowest daily growth in coronavirus cases.

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The death toll dropped by over 100 on Sunday.

Social distancing is still in place for those who have to return to work.

Lockdown is expected to last in Spain for just under a month with the current May 11 deadline.

This means that holidaymakers may have to wait a while until they are allowed back into the country.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is still advising Britons to only travel internationally if it is essential.

UK citizens in Spain have been urged to travel home as soon as possible.

However, once lockdown has been lifted and travellers can visit Spain, there could be some strict measures in place.

Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade, and Tourism, Reyes Maroto has said that the Spanish tourism industry is likely to struggle more than other sectors.

He said that the impact on the tourism industry was “difficult to calculate” as it depends on how long the crisis lasts and whether it will worsen.

He explained that what will come first is national tourism, and then international tourism.

He said: “The stimulation of national tourism will come first, international tourism will cost more.

“We depend on the evolution of the pandemic and we have to guarantee, when international tourism opens, that the person who comes to Spain is a safe person.

“The profitability of the tourism sector will undoubtedly be reduced because we will not have the capacity to mobilise 87 million tourists as at present.”

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Travel

Dubai update: Etihad adds more rescue flights for stranded Britons – full list here

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a popular holiday destination with people all around the world. But the stunning vacation spot of Dubai is known for being particularly popular with Britons.

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However since the coronavirus outbreak, travel restrictions have left people unable to go abroad and stranded in foreign countries, including UAE.

Etihad Airways announced yesterday that more flights have now been added to help foreign citizens return home from Abu Dhabi.

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However, all other flights to, from and via Abu Dhabi have been suspended.

The airline said on Twitter: “We’re announcing a series of additional special passenger flights from Abu Dhabi to Brussels, Dublin, London, Tokyo and Zurich.

“For a full flight schedule for these flights as well as the ones previously published, please visit: http://Etihad.com/travelalerts.”

The Abu Dhabi-based airline has expanded its special passenger flight services to other countries.

The airline has announced flights from Abu Dhabi to Brussels, Dublin, London, Tokyo and Zurich.

The airline’s added flights are an attempt to help people return to their home countries who are currently stranded in the UAE.

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Last week, Etihad also added rescue flights to Melbourne and Amsterdam.

The airline will continue to operate special rescue flights to Seoul Incheon, Singapore, Manila, and Jakarta.

Flights to London Heathrow from Abu Dhabi will begin on April 16 and will fly for two days until April 18.

Flights to Zurich will take place on April 17 and April 19.

Etihad will fly from the UAE to Brussels on April 17 and April 19.

There will be three flights to Tokyo on April 14, April 17 and April 20 from Abu Dhabi.

The airline will fly to Dublin on April 15, April 20 and April 22.

The flights will be available for booking on the airline’s website.

Etihad’s website said: “Our special flights have been approved by the UAE Government, and we’re working closely with authorities to continue these types of operations.

“Our aim is to increase the number of flights, subject to approval from other foreign governments.”

The latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice says that British people are not allowed to travel abroad unless it is essential.

The rules apply for an “indefinite period” due to the international border closures.

The government has also provided £75million to help UK residents buy tickets for the special charter flights and return home from “priority countries”.

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Holiday

Walk on the wild side at ‘Britain’s only desert’ in Dungeness

Its barren landscape featured on the cover of Pink Floyd album A Collection Of Great Dance Songs and former residents include film director Derek Jarman. That a million tourists make an annual trip to this strange three-mile stretch of land – an area so stark it’s known as Britain’s only desert – is no surprise. It boasts one of the largest shingle beaches in Europe and is a haven for wildlife watchers and nature fans, with more than 600 species of plants.

While just a 10-minute drive from our base at Parkdean Resorts’ Romney Sands Holiday Park, the best way to get there is by train.

Known as “Kent’s mainline in miniature”, the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway boasts charming steam locomotives that are a third of the full-size versions.

Covering thirteen-and-a-half miles of track from the Cinque Port town of Hythe, terminating in Dungeness, there are five stations along the way, including one at the holiday park to pick us up.

With two young children in tow, it was a magical way to travel, with steam pouring into the sky from the train adding to the spooky Dungeness atmosphere.

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Starting at Hythe and travelling to the end of the track takes around an hour…just enough time to build up an appetite.

We stopped at the Pilot Inn in Dungeness, which dates back to 1633 and is steeped in smuggling history.

It’s reportedly made from the wrecked timber of Spanish vessel Alfresia, which was lured aground where its cargo of brandy and gold was stolen.

The pub, naturally, specialises in fish and we settled for two large cod and chips (£13.50 each). A good-value kids menu (£6.50) features all the usual classics such as spag bol, and sausage and chips.

Beers were tasty too with a selection of warming local ales, including a stonking Shepherd Neame Master Brew, while an extensive dessert menu kept the small ones happy.

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The pub sits in the shadow of the impressive Dungeness Lighthouse, a grade II listed building that was opened in 1904 by The Prince of Wales, later George V. Its light, which flashed every 10 seconds and could be seen for 18 miles, provided much-needed assistance to sailors trying to navigate the perilous waters of the English Channel.

Eventually decommissioned in 1960, it now serves as a tourist attraction where on a clear day you can enjoy spectacular views across Romney Marshes.

And it’s worth the admission (£4.40 for adults, £3 for kids) for the views inside too, with a series of stunning slate mezzanine floors supported by steel beams and wrought iron banisters.

With our cheeks thoroughly windswept and us feeling somewhat weary after a day’s sightseeing, we hopped on the train for the short trip back to the holiday park.

There, our family of four were staying in a rather luxurious willerby Rio Gold, a holiday home which was spacious and had all manner of mod-cons from a large TV to a USB charging point.

With the heating on, the whole caravan warmed up in minutes – perfect after a breezy day by the coast.

Facilities at the park tick every box for young families, in our case two girls, aged seven and 10.

The indoor pool was a particular highlight with the pair taking part in “water walking” – effectively running on the top of the pool inside a massive blow-up ball.

I was happy to watch from the sidelines on that one, although I was roped into playing crazy golf – the equipment was free to hire – as well as games in the amusement arcade.

For the adults, there was a very lively bingo scene (we won £45!) and a great bar.

Food at the Boathouse Restaurant was reasonably priced with mains of traditional pub grub around a tenner each. Staff were everywhere, always smiling and willing to help, not least with tips of where to visit in the area.

The beaches, of course, came highly recommended.And directly opposite the park was a cracker with acres of beautiful sand – the perfect spot for watching the world go slowly by.

A short drive away is Camber Sands, an equally exquisite beach where, upon parking your car, you have to climb over stunning sand dunes to access the seafront.

If you have time, take a trip to Rye. It is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in England where you can get lost in a labyrinth of cobbled streets and marvel at the crooked, half-timbered houses.

There we stumbled upon a charming hotel and café, Whitehouse Rye, in the high street, where we had “fancy” bacon rolls (with chilli jam, fried egg and crispy fried onions) and cinnamon French toast.

It certainly sustained us for an afternoon’s sightseeing visiting Rye Castle’s 1249 Ypres Tower and the 12th century St Mary’s Church, before hauling our tired limbs back to the holiday park where our cosy, warm caravan awaited us.

Coronavirus restrictions mean Parkdean sites are currently closed to April 30 and the new season is now due to start on May 1.

THE KNOWLEDGE Parkdean Resorts offers three nights’ self-catering at Romney Sands Holiday Park in Greatstone, Kent, from £169, staying in a two-bedroom Rochester Apartment (sleeps six) for arrival on September 4. See parkdeanresorts.co.uk or call 0330 123 4850.

More info at visitkent.co.uk

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Travel

WATCH: Egypt disinfects the Pyramids of Giza to halt the spread of coronavirus

There are currently over 488,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world and over 22,000 deaths. Egypt has 456 cases and only four deaths as the coronavirus crisis continues to impact countries all around the world.

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The Egyptian authorities have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

On March 19, the Egyptian authorities announced the suspension of international flights.

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And now, to halt the spread even further, the pyramids are being disinfected.

It is one of the latest moves made by the government.

Egypt has also imposed a nightly curfew for the next two weeks, as well as closing schools and stopping flights into the country other than those returning from abroad.

From March 23 to March 31, all archaeological sites in the country have been told to shut shop to halt the virus further.

Some of the sites include the Egyptian museum in Cairo to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor which are huge tourist traps that bring in money to the country.

The world’s oldest colossal stone building the Pyramid of Djoser only reopened at the beginning of March but has now been closed again.

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Now that all the popular tourist sites are empty, they are undergoing a deep clean.

Videos online show cleaners wearing masks and hazmat-looking suits using industrial sterilisation equipment to clean parts of the pyramids.

The clean includes entrances to the pyramids, the ticket offices and the nearby roads to be make sure there is no risk of spreading the virus when they reopen.

However, reportedly the actual pyramids themselves are not being cleaned, according to the New York Times.

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Director general of the pyramids Ashraf Mohie El-Din explained why cleaning the pyramids themselves was more complex than most people realise.

Cleaning the ancient structures requires “specific materials” and a specialised team of excavators.”

He said: “We started the first phase of disinfection, and there are other phases.

“We are in the process of disinfecting all tourist sites, though the artefacts themselves require specific materials and (cleaning) must be carried out by a specialised team of excavators.

“We are making use of this period to sanitise the entire area, but also to carry out some maintenance work and renovation to have this area ready to accept visitors again.”

Most of the cases of the coronavirus in Egypt were linked to a cruise ship on the River Nile – the longest river in the world.

The cruise liner saw both foreign passengers and local crew tested positive.

The deadly virus has dealt a huge blow to the country’s crucial tourism sector.

There are currently virtual tours of the Pyramids and other landmarks available on Google Arts & Culture if you want to checkout the historical structures from home.

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Travel

How many flights are still running for Britons stuck in New Zealand? Full list

In a bid to protect its citizens, New Zealand has become the latest country to declare a month-long lockdown which will begin on Wednesday night. The move will see the entire country forced to remain in their homes apart from those working in essential services. The country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said in an address to the nation that she was not willing to put the lives of her citizens in danger.

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But the urgency to stop the spread of the virus could see many Britons trapped in New Zealand for the foreseeable future.

Here is a list of flights from some of the biggest names in the airline industry.

If your flight is cancelled it is advised that you contact the airline operating your journey for information on how you can get a refund.

Most carriers are updating affected passengers in due course.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s latest announcement says that they will be adding more domestic flights in the next 24 hours to support people wanting to return home safely.

The announcement says on their website: “As a result of the latest Government announcement, we are working on adding more domestic flights in the next 24 hours to support our customers to safely return home.

“We will update you shortly. Thank you for patience and support.”

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However, their website also says that the New Zealand government is recommending everyone travelling in New Zealand should consider returning home.

If there is no option to return home and Air New Zealand cannot assist then they recommend contacting the “national consulate or embassy in the country you are in”.

The nation has further strengthened its travel restrictions and has closed the border to almost all travellers, apart from New Zealanders.

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Qatar Airways

The airline has said that all customers affected by the current situation who have booked their ticket via a travel agency are advised to get a refund or rebook.

All tickets until June 30 will be affected for travel on or before that date.

The airline has had an unprecedented amount of people contacting them with enquiries.

They posted on Twitter: “If you are trying to contact us, we hugely appreciate your patience and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

“Unprecedented call volumes and closure of call centres due to global government restrictions is limiting our capacity to respond as usual.

“Please bear with us.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said that a number of international flights to and from New Zealand have been suspended.

The FCO is advising British Nationals already in New Zealand to contact their airline, travel provider, and insurance company for the latest information.

They also said that those who want to return to the UK soon should take account of the fast moving situation and plan accordingly.

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Travel

Flights: When can I fly to Spain?

Coronavirus has taken over the world, with a shocking 10,007 lives claimed by the deadly disease. UK residents have been advised to work from home and avoid all but essential international travel. It’s pretty clear that if we shouldn’t be going to the pub, we shouldn’t be getting off to a villa in Spain. So when can we fly to Spain again?

Is it safe to go on holiday to Spain?

The Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice from the FCO says: “the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.”

On top of this, Spain declared a State of Emergency (Estado de Alarma) on Saturday March 14- the entire country is in lockdown.

British travellers who are currently in Spain have been ordered to fly home as soon as possible and all hotels have been closed.

All Spaniards are to stay home and are only allowed to leave in order to buy the essentials, go to the chemist or hospital, or to go to work if they need to.

READ MORE- Coronavirus in Spain: FCO warn Britons to leave country

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Can you still fly from the UK to Spain?

Most flights to Spain are cancelled- in particular those with Jet2 and Easyjet.

Some tour operators have suspended all holidays.

Anyone planning to visit the country needs to consult their airline or tour operator, says the FCO.

Can I get a refund on my flights to Spain?

The FCO has changed its advice for Spain to “avoid all but essential travel” to the country.

If you booked with a tour operator, you will be eligible for a refund or a rescheduling of your trip.

If your airline cancels your flight, you will also be able to get a refund or arrange a rebooking.

If you have booked your holiday independently, contact the hotel you booked with and check your insurance policy.

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When will I be able to fly to Spain?

It is not advised to fly to Spain until the FCO changes their advice.

The Spanish government imposed the lockdown for two weeks initially, but has since implied that it will be longer than this.

José Luis Ábalos, the Spanish minister for transport, warned on Monday that the lockdown will “last more than 15 days”.

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Travel

Coronavirus in UAE: Is it safe to travel to UAE? Are there still flights?

Holidays seem to be off the table for the foreseeable future. UK nationals have been told to stay indoors for 14 days if they are experiencing symptoms, or those they live with are. Most people are working from home, and movement outside of our homes is extremely limited. But what about the UAE? Are flights still running from the UK to the UAE? Express.co.uk has all the information you need on the coronavirus situation in the UAE.

Is it safe to travel to the UAE?

Yesterday the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued a warning to British nationals due to travel to Dubai and the UAE.

The FCO is advising all British nationals against all but essential international travel for the next 30 days at least- however there is no official statement warning against going to the UAE.

Most visitors will not be able to get a visa and so won’t be able to enter the UAE anyway.

The FCO said: “From 19 March, the UAE will temporarily suspend all visas on arrival with the exception of Diplomatic passport holders.”

The warning continued: ““Those who enter the country may be tested on arrival and/or be required to self-isolate.

“Ordinarily, if you’re travelling on a British Citizen passport, you can get a visitor’s visa on arrival in the UAE. This visa allows visitors to stay in the UAE for up to 30 days.

“The visa terminates automatically on departure and a new visa is issued on arrival each time the visitor returns to the UAE. Please check with your carrier before travel.”

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What if I am already in the UAE?

If you are already in the UAE before March 19, you can extend your visa twice without leaving the country.

Of course, you would have to pay to do this.

Each extension is for an additional 30 days.

What do I do if I have a trip to the UAE booked?

Flights are still operating to the UAE, so you’re unlikely to get your money back if you don’t go.

You will only get your money back if the FCO advice changes to advise against going to the UAE.

The latest FCO statement reads:

“If you now need to change or cancel your travel plans, follow these steps,”

The steps are as follows:

  • Contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers
  • Get in touch with your insurance provider
  • Continue to follow the NHS coronavirus guidance.

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Travel

EU Schengen area: Which European countries are in the Schengen free-travel area?

Coronavirus cases across Europe are rapidly increasing, with many nations now taking drastic action to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The number of deaths in Europe comes close to 2,000, with 48,277 confirmed cases. Worldwide there have been 7,113 deaths and more than 180,000 cases.

Italy is the worst affected nation in Europe, with more than 27,000 cases confirmed, while Spain, Germany, France and Switzerland all have several thousand infected by the respiratory disease, also known as COVID-19.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK rose to 1,543 on Monday, up from 1,372 the day before, with 55 now dead.

Today, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen revealed plans to ban all non-essential travel in the to Schengen area.

The free travel region would be closed to all non-essential travel for 30 days if approved.

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Which European countries are in the Schengen free-travel area?

There are in total 26 European countries in the Schengen free-travel area.

Of the 27 EU member states, 22 participate in the Schengen Area.

EU member states not part of the agreement are Ireland, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Non EU-members Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also within it.

Ms von der Leyen told a press conference on Monday: “The UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent.

“Here in Europe we are heavily affected by coronavirus and we know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the speed of the spread of the virus.

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus.

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“Therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and governments, to introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union.”

The Schengen Area has a population of over 420 million people.

About 1.7 million people commute to work across a European border each day, and in some regions these people constitute up to a third of the workforce.

Each year, there are 1.3 billion crossings of Schengen borders, with 57 million crossings due to transport of goods by road, valued £2.55 trillion (€2.8 trillion) each year.

List of countries in the Schengen free-travel area

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

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