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London family talks Disney trip cancellation with coronavirus on the rise

FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2015, file photo, visitors walk toward Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the background at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2015, file photo, visitors walk toward Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the background at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

Better safe than sorry is how one London family feels after cancelling its trip to Disney World last minute in light of growing COVID-19 concerns.

Stewart Blair tells Global News it wasn’t an easy decision for him and his wife to cancel their family’s trip to Disney with four-year-old twin girls eager to meet Anna and Elsa and a nine-year-old son excited for Star Wars.

Blair and his family were planning to drive down to Detroit and fly to Orlando, Fla., next week but decided to pull the plug on the vacation Monday night.

“Having seen the confusing response from the (U.S.) government, it did not fill us with confidence,” he said.

“We are not concerned about the state of people in Florida at the moment, but a week or two weeks ago, there were only a few cases in Italy and we just saw how fast it spread.”

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READ MORE: Coronavirus concerns prompt King’s University College to cancel trips abroad

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 423 cases of the new coronavirus in the United States and 19 cases in Florida.

As of Tuesday, the virus has infected more than 110,000 people on a global scale, with 423 reported cases in the United States and 77 confirmed cases in Canada.

Blair said right now he and his wife are using an “abundance of caution,” especially since they have elderly grandparents and newborn babies to think about.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Italy extends lockdown to entire country as new COVID-19 cases surge

When it came to cancelling, Blair said everyone from their hotel in Detroit to the airline and Disney was very understanding.

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“The airline was great; they gave us credit, and it seems that everyone has special accommodations in place.”

He said both the airline and Disney World had been sending them updates on the new coronavirus and ways to stay safe in the lead up to their vacation.

In light of COVID-19 concerns, Disney has also changed its vacation policies, allowing travellers to cancel vacations for a full refund, which Blair said was an easy process.

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Concerts, sporting events and COVID-19: Cancellations and concerns
Concerts, sporting events and COVID-19: Cancellations and concerns

“We asked the person we were speaking to if they were getting a lot of these cancellations, and he gave a very diplomatic response,” Blair said. “I know from reading online, a lot of conferences have cancelled that were supposed to be held at Disney, and a lot of Disney blogs are talking about people cancelling and how many people are backing out.”

Global News consumer reporter Sean O’Shea recently spoke about how Canadians can get their money back if they cancel a flight due to COVID-19 concerns.

He said right now there is, unfortunately, no straight answer to that question but having things like travel insurance can help.

“Insurance kicks in when a circumstance arises where it’s beyond your control; if you’re sick, you can’t fly, you can’t return,” O’Shea told hosts on The Morning Show.

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“But it doesn’t kick in if you just say, ‘I feel afraid of going.’ There’s only one kind of insurance that does that: cover for any reason.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Canadian government continuing to monitor risk of travel to the U.S.
Coronavirus outbreak: Canadian government continuing to monitor risk of travel to the U.S.

O’Shea recommends getting an all-encompassing travel insurance plan to give you the best chance of a refund.

He said it’s unusual to see, but airlines are being more flexible by allowing people to defer flights with no added costs and other travel agencies, like cruise lines, are pre-emptively cancelling all trips.

“If the government says something, it can inform whether you’ll be able to get a refund,” he said.

The risk of contracting the virus in Canada currently remains low but the Canadian government is advising Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to China, Iran and northern Italy.

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A full list of active travel health notices by country can be found on the government of Canada’s website.