Battle Honours Ltd COVID-19 Update 01/06/2020
As of Monday 1st June 2020, we remain in an area of uncertainty with regards to our tours departing in July. Junes tours have all now been deferred, realistically, with the global situation as it stands, we see significant disruption to out tour schedule throughout July and into August 2020. However, we are seeing restrictions in France, Holland, Belgium and Turkey gradually easing as the weeks pass. The UK is also easing restrictions however, there has been ambiguous suggestions of a quarantine period for people returning to the uK from overseas. Not only have the travel industry collective asked for clarification on this, they are urging the Home Secretary to dismiss the idea entirely.
We do appreciate how frustrating this is for you as a client, we share the frustration and hope to start to return to the battlefields as soon as it is safe to do so.
We are hoping to offer a number of exciting UK based battlefield tours in August and will outline these in the coming weeks via our website and the quickfirer.
Please do bear with us until further clarification is provided for us to make an informed decision on your tour, to do this without official guidance may result in lost flight/ferry/tunnel and hotel bookings, our plan, as it has remained since the outbreak of COVID-19 is to reschedule tours as opposed to cancel them on a rolling basis.
Well, we do find ourselves in unprecedented times, here at Battle Honours HQ, Clive & Julian are working our utmost to ensure ‘business as usual’ wherever we can whilst other staff are in furlough.
On the advice of the authorities we are fully running the office from home and minimising risks/costs wherever possible. All of these measures are to ensure that once the coronavirus cloud lifts, we are in a position to offer you battlefield tours promptly and for years to come.
The latest Battle Honours advice/information sheet regarding the global COVID-19 virus and how it affects any tour is as follows.
Firstly, can we reassure everyone that any monies paid for a tour are held in an independent trust account and so are 100% safe. For the current time we will not be chasing balances until we have a clearer picture of the weeks/months ahead.
Travel industry advice from the very highest level is to defer/delay any affected tours as opposed to cancellation. All advice points to this as a relatively short-term issue and the destinations will be open and accessible within a few months. As a result, we are being to plan to defer all departures that are running in April and very likely defer those shceduled for May.
The current situation is very fluid and changing day to day.
We do feel however, that it is important to share the latest country by country information we have with you.
We are continuing to treat the issue of COVID-19 seriously yet responsibly and, as such, receive daily updates from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This official advice, over and above press speculation allows us to make informed, measured decisions on our tours going forward.
In addition, it was decided overnight that daily COBRA meetings would be supported by public briefings live on TV, Radio and streamed online. These will often contain advice regarding travel restrictions and your own movements.
We would also recommend you consult this map that is updated daily for an overall picture of the global situation - UN CODIV-19 Map
In addition, as a tour operator, regular updates and advice is being provided to us via the Travel Trust Association, this includes any control measures we may put in place, our legal responsibility and projected impact the virus will have on the wider travel industry.
As of today, the destinations we visit are affected as follows:
(i) Italy – The FCO advise against all but essential travel to Italy. Airlines have ceased direct flights to and from Italy, all non-essential shops & restaurants remain closed and public events cancelled. Currently there is no guidance to how long this will remain in place for.
Battle Honours tours to the area – 15-22 May Chuck McDonald Group – Temporarily deferred
14-18 June Walking Monte Cassino – Temporarily deferred to October
(ii) France – As of 14 March, the French Government outlined strict measures to control the spread of coronavirus. Non-essential establishments are closed, airlines continue to operate in and out of France. Eurotunnel is suspended until 30 April but Ferries are still operating on a restricted service.
Battle Honours tours to the area
(i) France – 28-21 May – 1940 Tour with Dan Hill – Tour deferred
5–8 June – WFA Chairmans Tour Mons – Tour deferred - new date to be announced
7-11 July - Walking Verdun - Likely tour defferal - suggested dates 27 September - 2 October
(iii) Belgium – As of 12 March the Belgian government announced stringent control measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Hotels, restaurants and schools are closed, planned public gatherings have been cancelled until at least 3 April.
Battle Honours tours to the area – 19-23 April - Battle of the Bulge Tour – Deferred *New dates 4-8 October*
(iv) Turkey – There are now reported cases of COVID-19 in Turkey, as a result all entrants into Turkey will be screened by thermal camera with medical teams on hand to examine anyone displaying a temperature. Flights from the UK, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Sweden & Belgium have been suspended until 17 April.
Battle Honours tours to the are – 3-8 May - Walking Gallipoli – Deferred *New dates 18-23 October
8-13 May – Hidden Gallipoli – Deferred *New dates 18-23 October
13-18 May – Yorkshire WFA Gallipoli – Deferred *New dates 2-7 September (Istanbul extension 7-10 September)
7-11 June – Charter School GA Bursary – Tour deferred
(v) Holland – As of 15 March the Dutch government announced restrictive measures including the closure of bars, cafes and restaurants, public events of over 100 people have been cancelled until 6 April.
Battle Honours tours to the area – 23 – 27 April – BCMH Tour – Deferred
8 – 11 May – Rob Bird Arnhem Tour – Tour deferred, new date pending
(vi) UK – Whilst the number of reported cases continues to grow, the UK is on the cusp of travel restrictions and closure of public buildings/non-essential facilities.
Battle Honours tours to the area – 21-22 March – London wartime weekend – Tour deferred
Currently all official and travel industry advice is to defer and not cancel Battle Honours tours to areas where travel restrictions are in place. Government advice also states that we should consider ‘imminent departures’ only such as the fluidity of the situation and the likely hood of the virus departing as quickly as it arrived. To that end all tours for April are deferred & May tours are very likely to be deferred. Tours for June are potentially deferred and outside of that they remain scheduled to proceed as normal. In the meantime we will not be pursing balances until there is a clearer picture for each tour.
What this means for any of our upcoming tours is:
(i) All tours are scheduled to go ahead as planned with bookings subject to terms and conditions.
(ii) Tours unable to run due to COVID-19 will, in the first instance be rescheduled/deferred as opposed to cancelled, this is on Government & Travel Industry Advice
(iii) Any client who has visited the recently affected areas on the FCO website should advise us before travel
(iv) If one of our hotels is closed due to quarantine restrictions, an alternate hotel of the same standard will be found
(v) It is a legal requirement for us to request that all clients have personal travel insurance before travelling with us
We do hope this offers some clarity for you and reassures you that, as a responsible tour operator we are taking a pro-active approach to COVID-19 and are happy to answer any specific queries you may have, the best way to contact us in the first instance is via email, should you wish to speak in person, we will happily return your call with 24 hours. Again, we would urge our clients to be patient and work with us as we move into unchartered territory.
We will of course, update you further should significant changes take place that could affect your tour.