What to look out for when travelling during coronavirus
Holidays are on the horizon, and with many coronavirus travel restrictions being relaxed, people across the country are looking into options for trips abroad this summer. But what should you keep in mind when planning your vacation?
Outbreaks in Europe
While infection rates in the Netherlands appear to be remaining stable, a number of popular holiday destinations in Europe are reintroducing stricter measures following new coronavirus outbreaks. Therefore, it is important to keep up to date on what is happening in the country you’re hoping to visit and pay attention to any measures in place there that don’t exist in the Netherlands.
The Dutch government has a colour-coded system in place to advise on travel to countries and regions around the world:
- Green: no security risks
- Yellow: caution, safety risks
- Orange: only necessary trips
- Red: do not travel
Countries that currently fall under the yellow code include Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. This means that people can travel to these countries, and the same risks and rules apply there as in the Netherlands.
Regional lockdowns are in place in a number of cities in southern Europe. Two regions in Spain, Segrià in Catalonia and the coastal area in Galicia, have recently experienced stricter coronavirus measures. Similarly in Portugal, the cities and surrounding areas of Lisbon and Porto were recently raised from code yellow to code orange due to an increased spread of the coronavirus.
While these codes are not legally binding, a code orange does indicate that travel to the specified area is not recommended unless it is absolutely necessary, and any travel is done at your own risk. Upon return from an orange coded area, you are expected to quarantine for 14 days.
Holiday destination gone orange?
The future of the coronavirus pandemic is certainly unclear, and trying to plan a holiday when popular destinations are turning back from yellow to orange is tricky. What should you do if this happens to you after booking a trip?
If the travel advice changes from yellow to orange during the stay, the government advises that you should try to return to the Netherlands as quickly as possible. However, if a lockdown is implemented, then this may not be easy.
If travel advice is changed before you leave on your holiday it is not advisable to travel to that destination, writes the Dutch Association of Insurers, and usually, the trip will be cancelled by the travel agent or airline used to book.
The government has also put a stop to repatriating people because of the coronavirus. Therefore, if you are travelling somewhere which has a code yellow, you are doing so at your own risk.
What about travel insurance?
If the code of the destination is only changed after arrival, travel insurance will be valid until the first possible moment that the holidaymaker can return to the Netherlands, says Oscar van Elferen from the Dutch Association of Insurers. Anyone who decides to stay in the country will waive their right to claim insurance. Van Elferen says the costs of the return trip will not be covered by insurance, but should instead be covered by the tour operator. If the travel advice is changed before you leave, then there is usually no insurance coverage.
If you have to stay longer at your holiday destination because of an imposed lockdown or quarantine, many insurers will reimburse the extra costs for food and accommodation, however, this will not apply to people who travel to an area where these restrictions are already in place.
As for cancellation insurance, Van Elferen says it is of little use at the moment: “Insurers no longer label a virus outbreak as an 'unforeseen event'. So you cannot rely on it in the event of an outbreak." And if you fall ill, Van Elferen says the travel insurance will only cover the costs to the point of what the same treatment would cost in the Netherlands.
Booking a trip?
With summer here it is very tempting to get away for a while and enjoy a holiday, but make sure you do your research first!