The Foreign Office is advising British nationals against all non-essential overseas travel due to the coronavirus outbreakl.
In an ‘exceptional travel advisory notice’ the Foreign Office said: “The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice takes effect immediately and applies initially for a period of 30 days.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice. ”
“If you now need to change or cancel your travel plans, follow these steps: contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers, get in touch with your insurance provider, continue to follow the
“The FCO was already advising against all but essential travel or all travel to some areas or countries due to risks that do not relate to COVID-19. This advice remains in place. Check travel advice pages for the latest information.”
Responding to the Foreign Office advising Britons against all non-essential foreign travel, Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, said: “This is of no surprise given recent developments but clearly it will bring more devastation to the airline and wider travel industry, which were already dealing with a truly critical situation and now face an uncertain future, with international passenger aviation from the EU and UK effectively suspended until further notice.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Ultimately, the way travel advice is given by the Foreign Office is that the decision on whether to travel nonetheless remains an individual decision.
“Travellers may have urgent, particularly exceptional business, family or commercial or otherwise and circumstance by differ. But what we are doing is strongly advising against travel globally.”
Mr Raab said the Government is “liaising with the tour operators and airlines”.
“Given the volume we don’t have precise numbers, but the volume of people, British nationals who are abroad, not permanently, not living abroad necessarily but travelling abroad – to expect that the Government can repatriate them all I think would be unrealistic.
“What we do do is make sure we’re in a position to protect the most vulnerable.”
On why consulate teams are stretched, he added: “I have to say to Ms Thornberry, she ought to have a look at the scale of the international challenge this country and everyone is facing with Covid-19.”
They added: “You must follow the advice of local authorities. Your safety and security is the responsibility of the local authority where you are.
“If you wish to leave the country you are in, contact your airline or travel company and your insurance provider as soon as you are able, and keep up to date with the latest developments. International travel may become more difficult. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.”