Last Updated: October 27th, 2020
Like so much else, the tourism industry has been thrown into disarray by the outbreak of COVID-19. It's a difficult time for everyone and uncertainty about the future can be very stressful for many people.
That's why we have decided that the best thing we can do is to give our guests as much clarity and certainty as we can.
At present, many Irish tour companies are not offering refunds for the tours that they cancel. Instead, where COVID-19 measures mean that a tour can not run, these companies are asking their guests to change dates to 2021.
To us, this just doesn't feel right. We know how much effort goes into booking a tour and we understand that you chose your specific dates for a reason. For many, a vacation like this is a once in a lifetime chance: dates can't always be easily changed. With this in mind, even while we hope you will discover Ireland and Scotland with us in the future, we have decided to offer refunds to anyone whose tour does not run.
As it remains unknown when normal life might resume, most people don't expect international tourism to be practical until sometime in 2021. That's why, with a heavy heart, we've taken the proactive decision to cancel and refund all scheduled tour packages where circumstances might prevent us from offering a service that our family business can be proud of. For example, if we know that some aspect of your tour is not practical or up to standard, then we have decided not to go ahead. This proactive policy has allowed all affected guests to move forward with a clear idea of where they stand.
We have added extra flexibility into our terms and conditions for you. Anyone booking a tour for 2021 can cancel up to 30 days before their tour start date and pick either the full amount paid to be transferred to a future booking, or to have all monies less the 4% card charges refunded (full details in our terms and conditions).
We have also tried to be proactive in communicating with all our guests, and we have been replying to your emails as quickly as we possibly can. Eric and the team at My Ireland Tour would like to thank all of our guests for their patience and understanding at this difficult time.
The Irish and UK Governments have put in place social distancing measures that include the closure of many non-essential businesses, as well as restrictions on travel. Flights in and out of Ireland and the UK are still running, though in a very reduced capacity and there are self-isolation requirements for any non-essential travellers arriving into Ireland or the UK. Although both countries have announced multi-phase plans for reopening their economies, there is currently no clear timeline for ending the self-isolation requirements for non-essential travellers. Visitors to the UK should be mindful of regional variations announced by the Northern Irish, Scottish, Welsh and UK-wide governments.
Ireland, on September 15th, introduced a new 5-Level plan called 'Living with COVID', which is to remain in place for six to nine months. Level 1 is classed as having the fewest restrictions. Level 5 is classed as having the most and would represent the closest scenario to the full lockdown experienced by Ireland in March and April. During the plan, it is expected that different counties, within the Republic of Ireland, will be classed at different levels, depending on the case rates within each.
The Irish government has announced that as of midnight on Wednesday, the 21st of October, every county in the Republic of Ireland is to be placed on Level 5 restrictions. These restrictions will be in place for six weeks, until Tuesday, the 1st of December.
People are being asked to stay within 5km of their home, to work from home where possible and to not visit any other household. Non-essential retail is to close, bars and restaurants are to operate takeaway or delivery services only and public transport is to operate at 25% capacity. Up to 25 mourners can attend a funeral, while 25 guests can attend a wedding. Schools, child care and early learning services will continue to remain open.
On September 22nd, the UK government announced tighter restrictions across England. These restrictions mean restaurants and bars can only provide table service and have to close by 10 p.m. Wearing of masks to become mandatory for retail and hospitality staff, as well as anyone who is not sat at a table in restaurants and bars. Anyone that can work from home is being asked to do so. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said that these restrictions could be in place for the following six months.
The UK government, on the 14th of October, announced a new three-tier system for England. The majority of the country is placed under Tier 1, which has the least amount of restrictions; face masks and social distancing remain mandatory, restrictions on the opening hours of pubs and restaurants, and people being asked to work from home if possible. Tier 2 carries the same restrictions as Tier 1 as well as the banning of different households from meeting indoors. 12 regions, in the north and midlands of England, currently fall under Tier 2. Tier 3 includes all the restrictions of Tiers 1 and 2 as well as the exclusion of non-essential travel, the closing of pubs, gyms, leisure centres and casinos. Regions in Tier 3 include the Liverpool City Region.
Scotland is also operating similar region-based restrictions. All of these restrictions will be reviewed in the coming weeks.
In Wales, the government has announced what they are calling a "firebreak" lockdown for 17 days, from Friday the 23rd of October until Monday the 9th of November. This lockdown requires everyone in Wales to stay home, with the only exceptions being critical workers and people working in jobs where working from home is not possible.
The UK government has announced that Northern Ireland will enter into an 'intense lockdown phase' known as a 'circuit breaker' on Friday the 16th of October. This measure was put in place in an effort to stem the recent sharp rise of Covid-19 cases in the country and will remain in place for four weeks.
Both the Irish Government and the UK Government have now begun to slowly increase restrictions, within their respective countries, due to increases in case numbers. The outcome of these restrictions, like so much else, remains unclear. Each level of restriction imposed by the governments is reviewed, assessed and updated periodically. We will do our best to keep you up to date.
Hotels, in both Ireland and the UK, reopened in July. There are currently parts of both countries where hotels can only open for non-social and non-tourist purposes.
Both countries also currently have a required period of self-isolation for most visitors entering. There has been no clarification, as yet, regarding the timeline for how long this requirement will last. We are keeping a close eye on this very important detail, being a critical step for when we can start running tours again.
As the circumstances surrounding our 2020 shared tours prevent us from offering a service that our family business can be proud of, we have taken the proactive measure of cancelling all of our shared tours for the remainder of 2020. We see this as the only fair and honorable option for our guests.
We are offering all of our affected guests the option of a refund, or the option of transferring their full amount paid to a 2021 tour.
If your tour is cancelled, you will receive immediate notification by email. For more information regarding our cancellation policy, please click here.
Please, rest assured that we will only start running our shared tours again when the Irish and UK Governments advise that it is okay to do so, and when Ireland and Scotland are opened back up to the level which allows us to give you the full proper experience of these wonderful countries. We would never run any tour which we could not stand by as a truly wonderful experience.
We will be keeping the situation in close review. We will keep this page updated and keep sharing our thoughts and plans here. We hope this page gives you all the information that you might need, and that it helps clarify your situation if you decide not to travel.
Our Tours of Ireland and Scotland 2021 are now online.
Anyone who has booked on a 2020 tour with us can transfer to a 2021 tour without any penalties.
We have also put a price freeze on our 2021 shared tours, to make it as easy as possible for those who had booked a 2020 tour to change to 2021.
We have updated our terms and conditions due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). This extends the rights of our guests. It does not reduce any of our guests' rights as per the standard terms and conditions. We are doing our best to make things more flexible for you and to ease any concerns of having to make decisions too early.
We know it's hard to predict the future at the moment, so we wanted to give you as much flexibility as possible.
You can cancel your booking up to 30 days before and pick either to transfer the full amount paid to a future booking, or to get a refund of all monies paid less the 4% card charges.
When transferring to the future, you can pick any tour that starts in 2021. It does not have to be the same itinerary that you originally booked. You do not have to pick the date and tour straight away. The tour price, dates, offers, and itinerary may be different from the tour that you had originally booked, and is subject to availability.
We hope this section helps to clarify any questions that you may have regarding the circumstances under which we would cancel a tour. These unprecedented times have meant that, with a heavy heart, we had to cancel all of our shared 2020 tours.
*Please note that although we do not cancel tours based on advice from foreign governments, you can still cancel your booking up to 30 days before your tour start date and either transfer the full amount to a future booking or get a refund of all monies paid less the 4% card charge fees. Please see our terms and conditions section "Cancellation by You".
If we have to cancel a specific tour, then all participants who are booked on that specific tour at the date of cancellation would get the option of having a refund of monies paid to My Ireland Tour Ltd (less 4% card charges), or have the full amount transferred to a future booking for any tour 2022. Participants who have already cancelled in advance or transferred to a different tour would not receive this refund. My Ireland Tour Ltd would not be liable for any other items or costs incurred such as Airfares.
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