Battle Honours Ltd COVID-19 Update 01/09/2020
As of Monday 1 September 2020, we remain in an unsettled position with regards to our tours, all those due to depart in September & October have been deferred bar one, it is our intention to re-commence overseas tours as of March 2021. For that to happen however, realistically the current quarantine restrictions on visiting France need to be lifted, we are following developments carefully.
This is of course still subject to change and new restrictions being implemented should the current situation with COVID-19 deteriorate.
Many of the restrictions that were placed on Turkey have now been lifted, and some goo dnews is that we are travelling to Gallipoli between the 18-23 October 2020, those visiting France and Belgium however appear to be tightening up which have significantly impacted on our tours planned for these areas.
We do appreciate how frustrating this has been for you as a client, we share the frustration and hope to start to return to the battlefields as soon as safely possible. In addition, we are hoping to offer several new UK based battlefield tours this Autumn and these will be outlined in the coming weeks via our website or the ‘Quickfirer’.
Please do bear with us until further clarification is provided so we can 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.
The remaining overseas tour we have planned for 2020 is:
18-23 October - Walking Gallipoli
On the advice of the authorities we are now running the office again on reduced hours alongside working 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 have deferred all departures prior to 27 September.
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.
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 started to operate direct flights to and from Italy, shops & restaurants are now re-open along with hotels, museums anre slowly re-opening. There is a travel quarantine in place for those returning to the UK and currently this is under review and may be lifted in the coming days.
Battle Honours tours to the area – 15-22 May Chuck McDonald Group – Deferred to 15/22 May 2021
14-18 June Walking Monte Cassino – Deferred to 14/18 March 2021
(ii) France – As of 3 July, the French Government continue their reduction of lockdown measures. Bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels are now mainly reopen. Hotels are also now open and movement across Europe is unrestricted from their pespective. Our own quarantine rules now appear to have been lifted so tours will shortly begin to run there.
Battle Honours tours to the area
28-21 May – 1940 Tour with Dan Hill – Tour deferred 5–8 June – WFA Chairmans Tour Mons – Deferred to 4-7 June 2021 6-10 September - Walking Normandy - Deferred to 2-6 May 2021 7-11 July - Walking Verdun - Deferred 4-8 July 2021
(iii) Belgium – As of 3 July the Belgian government announced further reductions on the lockdown measures, restaurants, bars, museums and cafes are now reopening, hotels are slowly reopening though due to the lack of UK visitors to the region around Ypres, some remain closed for economic reasons. Planned public gatherings have been allowed though an excessive number of visitors to the Last Post Ceremony has prompted a re-introduction of it being closed to the public.
Battle Honours tours to the area – 19-23 April - Battle of the Bulge Tour – Deferred to 26 March - 1 April 2021
(iv) Turkey – There remains a declining level of 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 July. The wearing of a facial mask in Turkey is now compulsory, Canakkale is now re-open for visitors and our hotel have been awarded a Covid-19 clear status from the Turkish authorities. Until air travel is reinstated and our quarantine law is lifted however we cannot begin leading tours there, we are hopeful that will change in the coming days.
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 to 14-19 May 2021 (Istanbul extension 19-22 May)
7-11 June – Charter School GA Bursary – Tour Cancelled
(v) Holland – As of 1 Julythe Dutch government have continued to relax the restrictive measures they had in place, hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants are starting to partially re-open, public events of over 100 people remain prohibited.
Battle Honours tours to the area – 23 – 27 April – BCMH Tour – Deferred to 22-26 April 2021
8 – 11 May – Rob Bird Arnhem Tour – Deferred to 28-31 May 2021
(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 to 5/6 December 2021
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 before September 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 above 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.