Holiday firms are 'bullying' customers into handing over thousands of pounds for trips that look set to be cancelled due to coronavirus lockdown - as Matt Hancock warns trips abroad will not be possible this year

Countless holidays have been cancelled since the Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel in March.  Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was 'just a reality of life' that breaks abroad would be off limits after the Government announced a 14-day quarantine for all international arrivals into Britain. The latest extraordinary commitment by the government came as: If customers choose to cancel and not pay the balance, they stand to lose their deposit. It means that disappointed holidaymakers, including many who have lost their jobs or who are vulnerable to the virus, are now faced with a difficult decision. And, according to the firm's terms and conditions, if the balance is not paid in full and on time, it reserves the right to treat the booking as cancelled, which means charges apply and the deposit will be withheld. The airline announced last week that it will not resume Gatwick flights, will reduce its workforce by 3,150 people and will not return to using its seven Boeing 747-400 aircraft, which have four engines.  Whether or not you are entitled to a refund of your deposit if you cancel will come down to the terms and conditions of your contract. Martyn James, of online dispute service Resolver, says: 'It's clear that some holidaymakers are being bullied into paying in full for holidays that might not even go ahead.  This is concerning in light of the statement from the Competition and Markets Authority about refunds and cancellations.' He adds that the best thing holidaymakers can do is to ask for a delay to the date by which you need to make your final payment.  Or find out if the firm will consider allowing you to rebook for later. You should be able to claim your money back if the holiday is cancelled due to unavoidable or extraordinary circumstances, including 'significant risk to human health, such as the outbreak of a serious disease at the travel destination', explains Mr Brehany. Ahead of that meeting, a leaked document made clear Athens wants to apply ‘fair treatment’ to all European holidaymakers, including Britons. Travel to resorts would be subject to testing negative for the virus three days before flying or tourists proving they had recovered from it. A travel blueprint drawn up by the Greek government signalled the country was ready to start reopening resorts again from June 15. But while Greece said it would welcome back travellers, Spanish tourism bosses said the international holiday market was ‘effectively dead’ after Spain followed Britain’s lead and introduced its own 14-day quarantine measures for all arrivals. Andalucia’s Regional Tourism Minister said it meant he has given up on the idea of attracting Britons to the Costa del Sol this year. Juan Marin said: ‘Nobody’s going to come here if they have to spend their holidays stuck in a room for 14 days.’ The European Commission map will say travel bans and quarantine measures introduced to battle the virus should be gradually lifted if ‘developments across Europe continue their current positive trend’. A leaked version states: ‘Handled correctly, safely, and in a coordinated manner, the months to come could offer Europeans the chance to get some well-needed rest, relaxation and free air, and to catch up with friends and family, in their own Member States or across borders.’ EU officials said banning Britons but allowing Germans to visit resorts in countries was allowed under the rules. It comes after Boris Johnson announced passengers entering the UK from most countries will have to self-isolate for two weeks, meaning travellers would have to take a whole month off work for a two-week holiday. She said: ‘This raises the very real possibility of people travelling via France to circumvent quarantine measures and in effect creates a backdoor which undermines the quarantine measures other British citizens arriving home will be asked to endure.’ Ryanair was last night accused of cynically avoiding a multi-million pound bill for refunds by announcing plans to operate 1,000 flights a day this summer. The budget carrier plans to restore 40 per cent of its flights from July 1, despite indefinite travel restrictions and warnings that summer holidays are effectively cancelled. Ryanair said passengers will have to ask permission to use the lavatory under strict new social distancing rules on flights this summer. But consumer groups said the move would deny passengers their right to a refund – while allowing Ryanair to keep millions of pounds it would otherwise have to pay out. The announcement by Ryanair caused surprise a day after the Government confirmed plans for a 14-day quarantine of all UK arrivals. ‘The aviation regulator and Government must stand up for passengers’ rights and start taking action against any airlines that are flouting the law around refunds.’ Ryanair declined to comment.