Government to Refund Journeys Cancelled Due to New Christmas Restrictions in England

December 21, 2020 Updated: December 21, 2020

People in England who have booked their train or bus tickets to travel during Christmas will get a refund, the government announced on Monday.

The decision came after the government reversed almost at the eleventh hour a previously announced relaxation of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions that would allow people across the UK to travel between tiers to meet their families in a five-day period from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27.

“This ensures no one is left out of pocket for doing the right thing—staying home in tier four, and elsewhere staying local and only meeting your Christmas bubble on Christmas day,” Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said in a statement.

“It is imperative that we all follow the new measures and play our part in tackling this virus, protecting others, and safeguarding our NHS.”

The refund policy applies to journeys in England due to take place between Dec. 23 and Dec. 27, and the tickets have to have been bought on or after Nov. 24, when the government announced the Christmas travel window, and no later than Dec. 19, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the change of plan.

Johnson said on Dec. 19 that the new variant of the virus could be 70 percent more transmissible than the old variant.

Health Minister Matt Hancock told the BBC on Sunday that the new variant is out of control.

To stem its spread, Johnson announced that London and swathes of the South East and the East of England would come under newly createdtier four restrictions, which are broadly equivalent to the national lockdown in England in November.

From Sunday onwards and throughout Christmas,tier four residents have to stay at home except for limited exemptions, and travelling in and out of tier four areas is prohibited.

For the rest of the country, the previously agreed five-day period to allow up to three households to meet has been reduced to Christmas Day only.

Ministers including Johnson had urged people in all tiers to stay local.

A slew of countries closed their borders to Britain on Monday over fears of the highly infectious new variant, although scientists said the strain may already be circulating in countries with less advanced detection methods than the United Kingdom.

Alexander Zhang and Reuters contributed to this report.