Should I travel to Tuscany, Italy?
Useful updates on the Coronavirus situation
Italy is now, after a severely restricting lockdown from the 12th of March, about to gradually open up again. You can read about this in more detail here: when will Italy open again?.
I've booked a holiday villa in Italy - what should I do?
At the moment, our advice for those with bookings from the end of June onwards is to wait.
There's no need to panic cancel now. We can take stock before your balance is due and see what to do. We have been speaking to everybody on a rolling basis and agreeing together what works best for each individual case.
We are working with our owners to make sure we can re-book or re-schedule your holidays if you can't travel on your planned dates. However we're also trying to help our owners: Villa Bookings are not like Cruises or large hotel chains - your booking is often with one family who owns one villa, not with a conglomerate that can take sweeping decisions. Losing half a year's bookings or more will be devastating for them - these are often people we've known for over 30 years who welcome our clients like friends, bringing round fresh home-grown vegetables and their own red-wine as gifts.
With that in mind, we see three scenarios at the moment:
Virus drops in Italy, and elsewhere, travel is fine, you take your holiday as planned
Ban stays on in Italy - or is dropped in Italy but instituted in your own country - you can’t travel due to government advice and therefore claim on insurance (which means I can still pay the owner). If this happens and you'd still like to re-book later, we're offering a 10% discount on re-bookings.
- Ban lifted everywhere but, for personal reasons you’re just uncomfortable travelling - in these cases most owners so far have been happy to reschedule bookings, so you don’t lose your holiday.
Essentially we will be as flexible as we possibly can be, including re-scheduling for 2021 - so waiting doesn’t carry too great a penalty.
The picture on Travel Insurance is emerging at the moment. The advice from ABI (The Association of British Insurers) can be roughly condensed as:
1.If you travel against government advice you invalidate your insurance (i.e. you come to Italy when the government is advising against it).
2.If you don't go on holiday out of anxiety but there is no official advice against it this is classed as ‘disinclination to travel’ and your insurance won't cover you.
But if there is an official ban against travel you should be covered and they will re-imburse you.
However, any insurance booked after the recent announcements may well exclude pandemics - always talk to an insurance broker to make sure you're getting the most suitable policy.
I has now been classed as a pandemic, with cases found all over the globe - with cases growing in the US, UK, Canada and Italy - and the race is on to produce an effective vaccine. It's worth remembering that most people recover from the illness (as described by WHO above) and it is far less deadly than SARS. But older patients, and those with respiratory difficulties (our parents and our children with asthma, for example) are at risk - so the sooner the UK and the US take action, the better.
The WHO mythbusters page is a good place to start. After which you should remeber the precautions you can take, wherever you are:
1. Wash your hands in soap and water often - or use gel sanitiser
2. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (elbow) when you cough or sneeze
3. Put used tissues in the bin immediately
4. Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
Center for Disease Control Covid-19 updates. This is a great resource and has plenty of sections on global updates and how to protect yourself.
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. another good site for regular update - and for facts rather than hype. The have a useful live situation update running on the page, with location and number of cases.
NHS page on Coronavirus - advice from the British National Health Service, together with some travel advice too.
Italian Government COVID-19 page - in Italian. There is a link to an English version with slightly different information Protezione Civile. There is a phone number for up to date information: 1500 -also in Italian.
I will leave you with the thought that this too, shall pass - and when it does, there are few places more beautiful in the world than a beautiful villa in Tuscany!