Battle Honours Ltd COVID-19 Update 03/07/2020
As of Friday 3rd July 2020, we remain in an area of uncertainty with regards to our tours departing in August and September. June and July's tours have all now been deferred, realistically, with the global situation as it stands, we see significant disruption to our tour schedule throughout August 2020.
Many of the restrictions that were placed in France, Holland, Belgium and Turkey have slowly been lifted and travel routes are gradually returning to these areas.
The UK is also easing restrictions and today is set to announce a ‘traffic light system’ with regards to visiting countries. France, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Germany are believed to be ‘Green Light’ destinations so we will be free to visit them without fear of quarantine on our return.
This, we believe is a hugely positive step to getting tours underway once we feel it is safe to do so.
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.
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 prior t o 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 – Temporarily deferred
14-18 June Walking Monte Cassino – Temporarily deferred to October
(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
(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 - Tour deferred - suggested dates 27 September - 1 October
(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 *New dates 4-8 October*
(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 *New dates 2-7 September (Istanbul extension 7-10 September)
7-11 June – Charter School GA Bursary – Tour deferred
(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
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 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 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.