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Honeymoon hell thanks to Covid-19

Happy couple: Gregory Beek and Erica Morandi on their wedding day in Italy. Their honeymoon had been cancelled twice because of the coronavirus(Photograph supplied)

The Covid-19 virus has not yet appeared in Bermuda — but it has already disrupted travel plans.Newlyweds Erica Morandi and Gregory Beek said they had to cancel their honeymoon twice because of the spread of the virus.Italian-born Ms Morandi and Mr Beek had planned to travel on a three-week trip to China, Thailand and Vietnam on March 20, but were forced to change their plans and cancel in January when flights to Beijing were axed after the virus appeared.Ms Morandi, a nanny for a Bermudian family, said: “It took me months to plan our honeymoon,”She rebooked their honeymoon to visit family in Milan, Italy — but had to cancel the trip after the virus surfaced there, which led to flight cancellations.Ms Morandi said: “When I booked the airline tickets my husband jokingly said don’t plan anything because something will happen, and you’ll kill another country with your travel plans.”She added: “This time it was harder to accept. My mother already bought all the stuff I asked her to get to cook for me.”The couple married in Italy last September and used up their vacation time, so postponed the honeymoon to this year.Now she and her husband are left with tickets to New York where they would have caught their connecting flights. Ms Morandi said: “We might decide to spend a few days in New York. But we wouldn’t spend three-and-a-half weeks there. So we have to change our tickets again.” Now the couple are trying to recover some of the money they have lost over the cancellations.Ms Morandi said: “We work hard. That was our savings.”Julia Mather, a director at a Bermudian insurance company, said her family also had to cancel a vacation to China. They were scheduled to go on a tour this month with Chinese friends who live in London. Ms Mather said: “We always go on holiday with their family. I’ve been waiting for them to say they were going to China so that we could go with them.”But the family had to cancel what was meant to be the “trip of a lifetime” in January.Ms Mather said: “Then we spoke with travel agent of the actual tour who said if you cancel now, you will get a full refund.“Then we spoke to the travel agent in Bermuda regarding flights and they said hold off on cancelling because as yet airlines aren’t giving full refunds. “We held onto flights for a bit longer and are now cancelled with full refunds.” Ms Mather said she sympathised with the airlines, despite the inconvenience. She added: “I don’t want to think what their financial status is.”Suzanne Ingham, the manager of Oliver’s Travel Services, said her phone had rang off the hook and she had been deluged with e-mails about the virus from travellers. Ms Ingham said: “They are not necessarily clients I have booked. They are people inquiring about procedures and policies.”She added she had not had a lot of cancellations, but that people had considered their vacation plans and could still decide not to travel.Ms Ingham said: “New bookings are quiet.”But she warned that most travellers’ insurance packages did not cover voluntary cancellations over Covid-19. Ms Ingham said: “They have put the onus back on the suppliers. That doesn’t make you feel comfortable if you commit and then have to cancel.“Some of the suppliers will give you a future credit, but as far as refunds go it doesn’t seem to be happening.”However, some Bermudians are determined not to cancel their holidays, particularly if their vacation is not until the summer. Zina Malcolm of Brand Lion, a PR and advertising agency, explained she planned to travel to Dakar, Senegal, in June as a birthday celebration. She added: “I have been planning this for a while. I will wash my hands frequently. I won’t touch people.”Ms Malcolm said she would still heed advice from the US Centres for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation. She added: “I know if something crazy happens, I have to not go. But Dakar is not even at a level one in terms of risk.”