Wales lockdown: Ryanair holidaymaker faces losing money or breaking law

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Local lockdown restrictions in Wales mean people cannot leave those areas for holidays

People who have booked holidays say they are left choosing between losing their money or breaking the law.

It is illegal for people living in Welsh areas subject to local lockdowns to leave their county except for essential reasons which do not include holidays.

People living in England’s hotspots are still able to travel.

But some people in Wales are struggling to get refunds for booked holidays they are no longer allowed to take.

“I either flout the law or lose the money spent on my flights,” Jeff Norman from Cardiff said.

The 58-year-old was due to fly to Portugal on 5 October, having booked tickets before Cardiff became subject to a local lockdown.

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Jeff Norman

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Jeff Norman says he has been left choosing between losing money or breaking the law

“Ryanair refuses point-blank to provide a refund or credit note.

“Their attitude was as long as their flights are still operating, I should be able to get on one and it doesn’t matter about government restrictions.”

Mr Norman said the airline would only allow him to amend the flight, at a cost of £70 plus any difference in fare, which he said would cost more than the original tickets.

He added: “They say they have a responsibility to their shareholders but what about their responsibilities to the paying customer?

Mr Norman added he had amended flights to Australia and the United States with other airlines without any issues.

Ryanair said “standard T&Cs apply” for flights which are not cancelled.

“Passengers who do not wish to travel on their booked flight can move it to another date, in which case a flight change fee and the difference in fare may apply,” a spokeswoman said.

Are flights still running?

Cardiff Airport flights are still running “for legitimate travel and air movements”, the airport says – closely following guidance from the authorities.

A statement on the airport’s website confirms people in areas subject to local lockdowns should not travel outside their area “unless there is a reasonable excuse to do so”.

Even though the airport itself is in Vale of Glamorgan, which is subject to restrictions, people from areas not in lockdown can travel to the airport as long as they do not stop elsewhere in the county on the way.

When is it legal to go on holiday from Wales?

Just six mostly rural counties – Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Gwynedd, Anglesey and Powys – will not be subject to any restrictions from Thursday.

Carmarthenshire is not under local lockdown but the town of Llanelli within the county is.

People from these lockdown-free areas can enter or leave as they wish – but cannot visit other counties in Wales subject to lockdowns unless they are travelling straight through, or have an essential reason to do so.

If they do go on holiday, they may have to quarantine for 14 days upon their return depending on which country they visit.

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Just six counties do not have any local lockdown restrictions in place from Thursday

However people living in the counties where tighter restrictions are in place cannot leave without a “reasonable excuse” such as work or education – and going on holiday is not a reasonable excuse, according to the Welsh Government.

“We know this will be disappointing but travelling… for a holiday is not one of the permitted reasons under the regulations,” the guidelines say.

“The regulations are in place to protect you and your loved ones from coronavirus and to prevent the onward spread of the virus to other areas of Wales, the UK and other countries.”

The advice for people in those areas who have booked holidays is to first contact the airline, hotel or travel company to discuss rearranging or cancelling.

If the issue cannot be resolved with the provider, the body representing insurers ABI says claims may be made via travel insurance in some circumstances.

A spokeswoman said: “Travel insurance may cover non-refundable cancellation costs in specific circumstances, such as Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advice against travelling.

“Some policies may include cover for cancellation due to government restrictions in the event that no other consumer protections apply and there are no Covid-19 exclusions.

“Customers are advised to check their policy wording to see what they are covered for and should contact their insurer if they are unsure.”

Can companies be forced to issue refunds?

The Labour MP for Caerphilly, Wayne David, has called on the UK government to insist refunds are given to holidaymakers who cannot travel.

He raised the matter in the House of Commons with the UK Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, who declined to give a commitment that refunds will be paid.

Gerald Jones, the MP for Merthyr and Rhymney, also raised the issue with the prime minister, who said he would to look into the matter.

Airlines UK, the trade body for UK registered airlines, was also asked to comment.

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