Christmas plans have been left in tatters amid new Covid curbs as some airlines refuse to reimburse passengers for trips they can no longer take.
Boris Johnson effectively canceled Christmas for nearly 18 million people in London, the south east and east of England, as the region was closed for two weeks from Sunday.
Under the new Tier 4 rules, non-essential shops such as gyms, cinemas, casinos and hairdressers must remain closed, and people are only allowed to meet another person from a different household in an outdoor public area.
Those in Tier 4 were told not to leave the area while outsiders were advised not to visit.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have announced that they will not be offering refunds to passengers who cancel their trips due to new year-end restrictions.
Virgin Atlantic's Twitter account states: & # 39; Refunds are only allowed on canceled flights. If you have booked directly with us, you have the option of booking a new travel date until December 31, 2022.
"If you've booked with a third party, please contact them directly to find out your options."
British Airways customer Lisa Hunter tweeted at the airline: "We have just moved to Tier 4 but just heard over the phone that we cannot get a refund for flights booked over Christmas because the flight will not be canceled . "
“It is now illegal to travel out of Tier 4 areas, so surely it can't? Heathrow is in Tier 4! & # 39;
BA replied: & # 39; Hi Lisa, flights continue to operate as essential travel is still allowed. We fear that a full refund will only be eligible if your flight is canceled. & # 39;
A pedestrian walks through an almost deserted hall at Charing Cross station in London on December 20th
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have announced that they will not be offering refunds to passengers who cancel their trips due to new year-end restrictions
A BA spokesperson told MailOnline: & # 39; Customers who cannot or do not want to travel can still change their flights or request a voucher for future use as part of our “Book with Confidence” policy launched earlier this year Pandemic.
As always, if a customer's flight is canceled, they are entitled to a full refund or a voucher. We always reach out to customers whose flights may be affected to discuss their options. & # 39;
A Virgin Atlantic spokesman told MailOnline: & # 39; & # 39; We understand the difficulties Covid-19 and Tier 4 restrictions pose for some of our customers.
& # 39; If a customer is unable to travel for any reason, we offer as much choice and flexibility as possible to help them change or add to their plans. One name change and two fees for changing the date are waived for a new travel date up to December 31, 2022.
"Of course, when a flight is canceled, customers are entitled to a full cash refund."
Competing airline EasyJet said it would offer refunds for those staying at home.
A spokesman said: & # 39; EasyJet plans to fly its current flight schedule in the coming days. Following the UK government's announcement that it will be introducing Tier 4 restrictions that include advice against traveling abroad, some customers may now need to change their flights.
Londoners wait for trains at Euston Station to spend Christmas outside the capital
Affected customers in Tier 4 areas have the option of changing to an alternative flight free of charge, receiving a voucher or receiving a refund. This policy applies to flights through December 30th.
"All other customers can make changes to their booking without incurring a change fee up to 14 days prior to departure online via Manage Bookings at easyJet.com."
Last night, many Londoners fled the capital by train to escape the new restrictions just before they became enforceable – but many more are now stuck with tickets to Christmas visits that they are now banned from using.
Which? Consumer rights expert Adam French said, “These new restrictions will create massive travel disruptions and chaos, and leave many people's festive plans in ruins.
“If you've spent money on a train ticket and need to stay there, you should be able to cancel the trip and get your money back.
"Rail operators should be as accommodating as possible, giving passengers the flexibility to use tickets or giving them refunds if they are unable to travel at another time."
What are the new Tier 4 rules?
The Tier 4 rules are essentially the same as the blanket bans England was under in November.
Unnecessary retail stores will have to close, as will leisure facilities and personal care products such as hairdressers.
However, places of worship can remain open.
People on other levels are advised not to go into the areas with the highest brace, while level 4 residents are not allowed to stay in lower infection sites.
Restrictions that have forced millions of people across the UK to shatter their Christmas plans may have to remain in place for "the next few months," Health Secretary Matt Hancock has suggested.
"What is really important is that not only do people follow them (the new rules), but that everyone in a Tier 4 area pretend you have the virus to stop spreading it to other people" Hancock told Sky News Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
Scientists with the Government Advisory Group on New and Emerging Respiratory Viruses (Nervtag) have found that the mutant strain VUI 202012/01, identified by the laboratories of Public Health England in Porton Down, is spreading faster.
The prime minister was briefed on the group's conclusions at a meeting with Covid O committee ministers on Friday evening, and the new regulations were signed by the cabinet before Saturday's announcement ruined many people's plans to see the family for Christmas made.
"We know that this new variant makes it easier for you to catch a smaller amount of the virus that is present," said Hancock.
& # 39; With all the different measures we have taken, we need more to control the spread of the new variant than to control the spread of the old variant. That is the basic problem.
“We know this because we know that in November in areas where this new variant began, cases continued to rise in Kent, while in the rest of the country the November lockdown worked very effectively.
“It is an enormous challenge before we can get the vaccine in place to protect people. We will face this in the next few months. & # 39;
In the rest of England, Christmas relief was severely curtailed and households were only allowed to gather for one day – Christmas Day itself – instead of the five days previously planned.
Scotland and Wales also limit Christmas bubbles to a single day, while people of Northern Ireland have been asked to consider creating a bubble for Christmas Day only.
Wales has also mirrored the Tier 4 restrictions in England by bringing Alert Level 4 measures forward to Sunday, while Scotland has announced that the travel ban with the rest of the UK will now remain in place throughout the Christmas period.
People walk through barriers to catch trains at Paddington Station in London. The introduction of the new stage is intended to contain a new, more infectious virus strain, Boris Johnson said during a press conference on Saturday
People wait in the concourse at Paddington Station in London on Saturday as people scramble to get out of London before Tier 4 rules go into effect at midnight
The new rules to create a Tier 4 in England came into force on Sunday at 7am and will be presented to Parliament on Monday, which is on recess.
The legal instrument was enacted on Sunday at 6 a.m. and has to be approved by both the lower house and the upper house within 28 days. Otherwise, the change in the law will be reversed in accordance with a procedure known as the "Confirmation Procedure".
What parts of the country are in Tier 4?
Surrey (without Waverley)
The boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings
All 32 London boroughs and the City of London.
Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough
Essex (except Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
Speaking at a press conference # 10 on Saturday, Mr Johnson said he was taking the action with a "heavy heart" but that the scientific evidence left him no choice.
The announcements sparked a rush at London train stations and there were no tickets online for several London train stations including Paddington, Kings Cross and Euston at 7pm on Saturday.
Footage posted on social media showed large crowds at St Pancras train station, waiting to board trains to Leeds.
The Netherlands bans flights from the UK for at least the rest of the year to ensure the new strain doesn't reach their coast.
She said she would "look into ways with other EU countries to curb imports of the virus from the UK."
The announcements were a hammer blow to many businesses – especially retailers hoping to make some pre-Christmas sales at the end of a hot year in which they had repeated contracts.
There was also anger among some Conservative MPs after weeks of growing unrest in the bank over the return of ever tighter controls.
Mark Harper, chairman of Tory MPs' Covid Recovery Group, has called for Parliament to be recalled so MPs can debate and vote on the changes for England.
The Chairman of the British Medical Association Council, Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, however, welcomed the announcement that would save lives and help health services cope with the "incredible demand".
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) London (t) Boris Johnson (t) Christmas (t) Coronavirus (t) Coronavirus Lockdowns