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New social distancing rules: how can I get a refund if an event is now cancelled?

New social distancing rules: how can I get a refund if an event is now cancelled?
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In the past few months, we have seen steps taken for a slow return to ‘normal’ life. However, the coronavirus pandemic likes to keep us on our toes! And after a spike in cases across the country, the UK government has chosen to introduce some new social distancing rules for England.*

Confused? Don’t worry. We’ll break down what these changes are. We’ll also tell you how to get a refund if an event has been cancelled because of the changes.

What are the new social distancing rules?

The main change in the social distancing rules is a reduction in the number of people that can meet up.

From Monday 14 September 2020, people in England must not meet in groups of more than six when meeting with people outside of their own household. This applies to groups meeting indoors and outdoors, including at private homes. The rule also applies to all ages.

Of course, there are still some local lockdowns in place. So if you are in one of these areas, check with your local authority to clarify what the current rules are.

Previously, the rules allowed up to 30 people from two households, or six from multiple households, to meet outdoors. The current guidance is to only socialise with members of up to two households.

With the new social distancing rules, there are some exemptions. Groups larger than six people can gather if everyone lives together, or in the same support bubble. The rules don’t apply to children who do not live in the same household as both of their parents. This means children can divide their time between the homes of their parents without the rules applying.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions can still proceed with up to 30 people in attendance. Funerals will also be able to take place with up to 30 people allowed to attend.

How is this going to be enforced?

Under the new social distancing rules, police will be able to break up larger groups and fine those who don’t comply.

The fine will be £100 if it is a first offence. However, if you become a repeat offender, the fine can be doubled on each further offence up to £3,200.

What we may also find is that restaurants, pubs and cafes will start ensuring that you are not gathering in a group of more than six. The government has also asked these businesses to ensure they collect NHS Track and Trace data from customers.

What do I do if an event is cancelled?

Some of us may already have booked tickets for an event. Or we may have built up enough confidence to start making future plans. However, these new social distancing rules may change all of this.

If you have tickets booked to an event that is cancelled, there are ways to get a refund. You are covered if you booked your tickets through an event organiser that is part of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR). The organiser is required to refund the face value price of the ticket if the event is cancelled. The only downside is that it’s unlikely you will receive a refund for your booking fee or for any delivery costs.

If you purchased your ticket through a secondary ticket seller, you may find things are a bit different. You will need to check the seller’s terms and conditions to find out what their refund policy is.

Similarly, if you have paid for entry to a marathon or any other competitive race, you may struggle to get a refund. The likelihood is that the organisers will postpone the race and provide you with a new date. If you are unable to attend the new date, you will then need to check what the race organiser’s policy is for refunds.

One important thing to note is that if you have paid for any of these events on your credit card, you are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

This means that your credit card provider is jointly liable with the organiser or seller if anything goes wrong. This applies to any purchase of between £100 and £3,000. So, if you struggle to get a refund from the organiser, see if you can claim through your credit card provider.

*There’s different guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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