Covid-19: Latest Information and Advice for Businesses

19th Mar, 2020

Information for UK tourism businesses on the outbreak of COVID-19, including the current situation impact on travel to and from the UK and links to useful information and advice. The best source of information for any visitors with individual questions or health concerns is Public Health England.

Latest travel information and advice  

Government updates

To stay up to date with UK Government advice on coronavirus visit the .GOV website

17 March - Today, the Government has announced a £330 billion financial rescue package to support and protect businesses affected by COVID-19, including those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. This includes:

  • £330 billion of government-backed loans and guarantees that will be available from next week;
  • Over £3.5 billion in additional funding will be provided to the devolved administrations for support to businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;
  • All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will receive a 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months;
  • Confirmation that government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres etc. is sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance where they have appropriate business interruption cover for pandemics in place;
  • There will be a £25k cash grant per retail and leisure business for those without specific pandemic insurance;
  • Increase in grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000;
  • Further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000;
  • Relaxation in planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application;
  • Support for liquidity amongst large firms, with a major new scheme being launched by the Bank of England to help them bridge COVID-19 disruption to their cash flows through loans;
  • Increasing the amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £1.2 million to £5 million, and ensuring businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest-free, as Government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments;
  • The Bank of England scheme and business interruption loan scheme will be available from the beginning of next week;
  • A package of support for airports and airlines to be announced soon;
  • There will also be strengthened support for people - in addition to the measures in the budget, mortgage lenders will offer a three-month "mortgage holiday" for those in financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It was also noted that the next measures to be announced will focus on ‘people and individuals’

Full details can be found on Chancellor announces additional support to protect businesses

Watch the Commons speech

In addition, information on the Coronavirus Bill (which will be pushed through the house this week) was published. This guidance outlines the powers the government will receive.

17 March - UK Government has published guidance on social distancing and vulnerable people and guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.

16 March - The UK Government asks public to stop 'unnecessary travel and non-essential contact' for around 12 weeks.

Industry updates

  • British Airways – Has announced that, as it is currently experiencing extremely high call volumes, to not call or message unless customers are travelling in the next 72 hours so they can help those needing urgent rebooking. Customers with questions relating to COVID-19 are asked to check its FAQs or to find out more about its flexible booking options by visiting its book with confidence section. Customers are also advised to check the Foreign Office website for the latest travel restrictions before flying.
  • Virgin Atlantic – Has also asked customers that, due to extremely high volume of customers needing assistance, it is asking that unless customers are travelling in the next 72 hours they refrain from contacting them, to prioritise customers who are travelling imminently. It has also introduced a flexible no change fees policy.
  • easyJet travel advice – It also advising customers that it is currently experiencing extremely high call volumes. To reduce waiting times, it has asked customers to contact them within 48 hours of their departure date. Its terms and conditions policy is available here also has a dedicated section on its website re: its policies for certain destinations affected by flight disruption regarding COVID-19. Please also check its flight tracker for specific updates about your flight. Also, easyJet customers who wish to change their travel plans can now transfer their flights to alternative dates and/or an alternative destination without a change fee.
  • RyanAir has announced that it will waive the flight change fee (for all new and existing bookings from 13th March until 31st March) for customers who wish to change their travel plans due to COVID-19. Information about any flight changes due to COVID-19 is available here. It has also announced that it is reducing flights to/from Spain from Monday 16 March to Thursday 19 March. All affected customers will receive an email notification informing them of their options. Also, all Ryanair Group flights to and from Poland are cancelled from Sunday 15 March to Tuesday 31 March. Affected customers will receive an email notification informing them of their options
  • Norwegian has also asked that if customers are not booked to travel in the next three days then to please contact them at a later date due to the high volumes of enquiries with wait times for assistance long. It has also issued a message for passengers departing Schengen airports - with web and self-service check-in for all passengers departing Schengen airports not available for the foreseeable future. Please see its website for more information.
  • Tui Group has announced that is has suspended the majority of its travel operations until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Advice from government authorities

Latest advice for businesses

We also know that tourists affected will be very disappointed that they cannot go through with their travel plans and in line with requests from the Chinese Government and consumers fair cancellation/rebooking policies are advised. We have seen some great examples of industry best practice such as accommodation providers, airlines, train operators offering free cancellations or the ability to rebook to Chinese and other guests affected, easing some of their worry and helping to support their future plans to visit Britain. We know that goodwill created now will stand the industry in good stead for when the suspension is over.

Latest advice for visitors



The Home Office and UKVI have issued immigration guidance for individuals in the UK who are unable to return to China.

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