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Coronavirus update

Last updated: 1 April 2020

 

Anyone planning to travel in the coming weeks or months will be thinking about the impact the novel coronavirus (named COVID-19) may have. We will use this page to provide information to help you understand more about how it may, or may not, affect your travels.

 

The safety of our guests is our utmost priority, and we will be updating this information regularly as news and developments change.

Everyone’s personal circumstances are different, and we know each traveller will need to consider the situation from their own perspective. The main thing is that people are as well-informed as possible so they can make informed choices about their travel.

We know our guests understand that this situation is beyond our control and that we are working to provide great experiences for those guests wishing to travel to Italy as well as helping to inform those who are understandably concerned at this time. We are very disappointed that at a time when our guests should be excited about the prospect of a wonderful trip to Italy, they are being worried by the threat of catching this illness. Equally, we are alert to the challenges we face in Australia in containing the illness as we move into our own peak flu season.

 

Travel advisories

Because we are an Australian company, the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade's (DFAT) advisory level is our point-of-truth regarding whether tours are safe to go ahead. Because travel advisories can change, both positively and negatively, we will monitor these advisories continuously and review the advisories approximately 10 days prior to each tour commencing – as well as engaging with our industry partners – to determine whether a tour should proceed. This will be on a tour by tour basis.

 

If ‘Do not travel’ is specifically applied to a location in Italy to which we are scheduled to travel as we prepare to commence, we will look at rerouting the itinerary to avoid the area(s) concerned. If that is not practical, we will cancel that tour. This is also the case where there are other operational restrictions that would prevent us from conducting the tours substantially as intended.

AT 18 MARCH: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced an indefinite ban on all overseas travel.

 

View Smart Traveller website

 

Other countries where our guests are located have imposed similar restrictions.

In addition, from 17 March, all travel to the EU and Schengen Area is restricted for 30 days for non-EU nationals and, since 10 March, Italian authorities have extended measures to restrict non-essential movement, and a wide range of activities throughout Italy have closed.

We understand people’s concerns and a number of our guests have either cancelled their tour for 2020 or postponed until 2021 or 2022. In each case, we offer either a refund or a credit towards a future tour, as well as a discounted price for the future tour. We recognise that everyone’s circumstances are different, and we are committed to providing the best outcome we can for each traveller.

We know this is a very unsettling time for you. For us, the situation is devastating, but we know things will eventually start to return to normal.

The Italian Civil Protection Agency is providing daily press releases on the COVID-19 situation in Italy. This is official information if very helpful and may be found on the following website:

http://www.protezionecivile.gov.it/en/risk-activities/health-risk/emergencies/coronavirus

 

At this stage, a number of countries are not allowing entry or airport transit to passengers who have been to Italy. You will need to take this into consideration and check the travel advice of countries you plan to visit after Italy.

 

Information about COVID-19

You can find reliable information about the COVID-19 coronavirus at:

 

FAQS

We are continuing to monitor the situation. Below are answers to some of the most common questions that our customers are asking. 

 

Are your tours going ahead?

As always, the welfare of our travellers and our staff is our first priority. The experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) advise that coronavirus should not stop people from travelling. Their advice is to take all the same precautions to stay healthy as you would when you are at home. In that context, unless the official advisories at the time of the tour recommend against it, or there are operational restrictions that would prevent us from conducting the tours as intended, we will continue to run tours as usual; taking reasonable precautions in the interest of traveller safety.

If you cancel my tour, when and how will I be informed?

If your tour is cancelled, we will be in touch with you as soon as we can via email. We will also be sending regular email updates to all our registered guests to help them keep up to date as we get nearer to the tour dates.

 

How do I know if my tour is still going ahead as planned?

If you haven’t heard from us, then there have been no changes to your tour at this point in time. We will be in touch with you if your tour is changing or will be cancelled.

 

I’m worried about the virus. Should I come on my tour?

We cannot tell you whether you should come on tour or not. It is your personal decision whether travel is right for you at this time. We will, however, point you to information to help inform you so you can make an informed decision.

Some recommendations we can make are:

  • Talk to your doctor before travelling. 

  • Keep up to date with the travel advice for your destinations and for the countries you need to transit through to get there and get home as this is being updated regularly.

  • Read the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and your government’s department of health on how to stay healthy while travelling and minimise your risk of exposure.

 

What if I travel and need to be get quarantined by the local government?

If you are travelling and display potential coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, we will follow local health authority advice and assist you in seeking medical attention and diagnosis. Depending on the policies of the country, this may include quarantine. Any need for this will be on the basis of advice from medical providers. There are English-speaking doctors in each location we stay during our tours. The Italian medical system is a good one and, through Medicare, Australia has a reciprocal arrangement with Italy. You can read more about that at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/medicare/reciprocal-health-care-agreements/when-australians-go-overseas/about-reciprocal-health-care-agreements/visiting-italy. For this reason, we highly recommend you bring your Medicare card with you when you travel to Italy. 

 

What happens if the group gets sick or someone in the group shows symptoms?

If you, or any member of your group, display symptoms associated with coronavirus (COVID-19), we will seek local medical advice on a case-by-case basis and follow our incident management plan for transmissible diseases. As for any instance when a guest becomes unwell on tour, this includes seeking medical assistance for any unwell travellers and advice regarding the rest of the party.

 

If either I, or my group, are put in quarantine in Italy, who will cover the cost for this?

Many travel insurers will not provide cover for medical expenses associated with travel in a destination known to have a coronavirus risk. We strongly recommend checking your travel insurance policy before you travel to determine what level of insurance coverage you may be eligible for in the event that you are quarantined while overseas. Quarantine costs are each traveller's responsibility.

 

Will my travel insurer cover my medical expenses if I become sick while travelling?

Every travel insurer will have its own policy regarding whether it will cover medical or associated travel expenses should you become ill while travelling. We strongly recommend you consult with your travel insurer to determine what is and is not included in your policy. Holding a valid travel insurance policy is a condition of travelling on our tours.

 

Will you be giving out masks to your groups?

If you would prefer to wear a mask while travelling, please source and bring your own from home. We will be following World Health Organization (WHO) advice on when and how to use masks as per below:

  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.

  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

 

If you wear a mask, you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

 

What recommendations or precautions should I take while travelling?

Please refer to the World Health Organization's (WHO) advice to the public on their website here. Further to this, in Australia the latest vaccine for common strains of influenza becomes available late March 2020. We are booked to have our inoculations as soon as it is released. Whilst this will not protect us against COVID-19, the advice we have received is that it will help protect us against falling ill to other viruses whilst on tour and will assist in helping us to have strong immune systems to protect us against other possible illnesses.

I’m not travelling until later in the year. Should I cancel or get in touch?

At this point, your tour will be going ahead as normal. Until then we recommend monitoring the situation by following relevant government travel advisory services.

I want to cancel my tour. What are the cancellation fees?

In the first instance, we recommend getting in touch directly with your travel insurance provider to enquire about your coverage.

 

We understand people’s concerns and are prepared to be more flexible than stated in our Terms and Conditions. At the end of the day, whilst building a successful business is important to us, we are in this game because we like making people as happy as we can and that includes in exceptional circumstances as those we currently face.

 

Should you wish to cancel or postpone your tour, please email us at admin@viaggioitaliatravel.com.au and we will be in touch to discuss.

 Brisbane, Australia 

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    Viaggio Italia Travel has grown from  our love of travel, Italy and the Italian lifestyle.

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