How coronavirus is wreaking havoc with readers’ travel plans

The Observer has been inundated with queries about flights and bookings since the outbreak. Our expert gives her advice

The numbers of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the UK is still relatively low, but the epidemic has been causing havoc for those with travel plans. As the situation evolves, individual countries – and travel operators – are introducing different policies, leaving some travellers stranded, others uncertain and many out of pocket. Advice from airlines has been confusing, with some offering refunds or rebookings to passengers headed for risky regions and some leaving them to their fate. Insurers are similarly divided in what they will and won’t offer. For those wondering what to do about an impending holiday, it’s important to know when a refund is a right and when it depends on goodwill.

I’m due to go on holiday to Venice this month but I’m worried about the infection in northern Italy. I’m a diabetic and the symptoms could prove severe. If I cancel am I entitled to my money back?
RD, Buxton, Derbyshire

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How will coronavirus hit money, pensions and property prices?

We look at whether you should sell shares and hold off buying a home, or just sit tight

The conventional wisdom in the pensions and investment industry is that you should sit tight. Jason Hollands of advisers Tilney says: “Now is the time for investors to exercise nerves of steel and to avoid the temptation to kneejerk sell long-term investments in reaction to short-term turmoil; in so doing they will just crystallise losses. The market is now pricing in a worst case scenario and with such negative sentiment hitting stock prices, those in a position to do so should consider feeding new cash into the market, picking up shares that have been indiscriminately marked down. As Warren Buffet once observed: “Be greedy when others are fearful.”

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How coronavirus will affect your work, shopping and leisure

Your rights to sick pay if you are told to self-isolate – and whether the supermarket will deliver

There is no requirement on the employer to pay, says Sarah Evans, an employment expert and partner at JMW Solicitors, but in reality most decent employers are paying staff – particularly in the light of comments by the prime minister on Wednesday, who said workers should be paid sick leave from the day they are off.

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What does coronavirus mean for holidays, travel insurance and gigs?

What you can do to get a refund if your flight, sports match or festival is cancelled

Yes. The Association of British Insurers confirmed this week that someone booking a holiday to Spain in, say, June, and buying travel insurance would be covered for cancellation, but only if the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) later advised against travel to the country. The insurance has to have been bought before a country was declared off limits.

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UK house price recovery at mercy of coronavirus, warns Halifax

Bank says Brexit worries are no longer holding back sales but outbreak’s economic impact may filter into property market

House prices hit a fresh peak in February, according to Halifax, but the bank issued a warning about the potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the property market later in the year.

The UK’s biggest mortgage lender said prices rose by 0.3% in February to a new record of £240,677. The quarterly rate of house price inflation also rose to 2.9%.

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