FROM film premiers to sports matches, events across the world are being cancelled or postponed because of coronavirus fears.
In Europe, attractions such as The Louvre in Paris and museums across Italy have closed and plans for several business conferences have been ditched.
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Until today, there had been no major event cancellations in the UK – but on Wednesday morning, the London Book Fair, which was due to take place at Olympia in London next week, was scrapped.
A notice from the organisers on Twitter said: “It is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year's event.”
And the government has warned that it may take measures to curb large public gatherings if the situation worsens.
But what happens if you have a ticket for an event which doesn’t go ahead in the coming weeks?
What might be cancelled?
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned that “reduced mass gatherings” might be one of the measures taken to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Football authorities confirmed this week that they have held talks with government officials and public health experts to discuss plans to play matches behind closed doors if the coronavirus outbreak escalates.
Meanwhile, UEFA executive committee member Michele Uva said that the body was “at the waiting stage” and would monitor the situation ahead of this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament.
Events scheduled at the O2 Arena in London are still going ahead, although organisers have put up signs to remind people to wash their hands, and increased the supply of hand sanitiser.
No West End shows have been cancelled, although theatres in other countries have closed.
Elsewhere, Glastonbury organisers said they are “closely monitoring developments”.
Adrian Coombs, the festival’s head of event operations, told the local paper: "We work closely with all of the relevant agencies, including Public Health England and the NHS, and always review our plans as any circumstances change.”
What to do if your event is cancelled or postponed
In the first instance, you should approach the company which sold you the ticket.
If you bought your tickets directly from the event organiser or a specialist ticket retailer, such as See Tickets or Ticketmaster, you are entitled to some protections, according to consumer body Which.
These firms are required by the industry’s regulatory body, the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, to refund the ticket’s face value price when an event is cancelled.
If the event is rescheduled and you're unable to make the new date, you can also request a refund.
However, it is unlikely you’ll get the delivery costs or booking fees back.
Unfortunately if you purchased tickets from a secondary seller, like Viagogo or StubHub, you may have less luck.
These sellers do not face the same requirements and so are not required to give you a refund – although some may.
Either way, the best thing to do is to contact the company which sold you the ticket.
If you paid by credit or debit card
Even if your ticket seller refuses to help, if you bought anything worth more than £100 and less than £30,000 using your credit card then you are protected under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
This means your credit card company is jointly liable for any breach of contract by the retailer, such as an event being cancelled.
If this happens, you can claim your money back directly from the credit card company.
Your bank may be able to help you if you paid by debit card or if you paid less than £100.
Chargeback is the reversal of a transaction made to dispute a card payment – like a type of refund.
The bank is sometimes able to withdraw funds which it previously deposited into someone’s account – in this case the ticket seller.
But there are no guarantees.
The retailer can dispute a chargeback, and your right to one isn’t enshrined in law.
Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which, said: “With the government indicating that large-scale events may be cancelled to try and limit the spread of coronavirus, many people will understandably be concerned for what this means if they have tickets for an event in the near future.
“If you’re affected by any cancellations, hold on to your tickets as you may be entitled to a refund of at least the face value of the ticket, even if the date changes.”
What about hotel and travel costs?
You may have booked transport to a venue and somewhere to stay, which you would no longer need if the event was cancelled.
In this situation, get in touch with the companies you booked with – they may be able to refund you or offer to move your booking if the event has been rescheduled, although they don’t have to.
If you have travel insurance, you may also be able to claim back the total cost of the trip.
If you're worried about a holiday you've booked, it is worth working out what your rights are.
You also may have rights to sick pay if you have to self-isolate in the coming weeks.
Here's where to buy hand sanitiser as coronavirus spreads.
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