UK Government advises Britons against non-essential foreign travel for 30 days

Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 1:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 1:52 pm

At this point, it'd be easier to list the popular tourist destinations that don't have any restrictions on them, although they are few and far between.

Covid-19 has caused chaos in just about every corner of the globe, with governments shuttering borders in an effort to keep the virus out of their territories.

That means tourism is harder than ever.

So what is the official advice of those still looking to get away from it all as the coronavirus pandemic continues?

What's the FCO's official advice on travelling abroad?

Typically, the FCO don't give board information, instead giving travel advice to specific areas and countries.

But in unprecedented times such as this, they've advised British people against all non-essential travel worldwide, set up a specific advice page for travel in the time of coronavirus.

“The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide,” they say. “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice.”

“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 FCO travel advice pages for the latest information.

“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 NHS coronavirus guidance

What if I am already abroad?

The FCO advises British people against all but essential travel worldwide due to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions.

“We will continue to update our Travel Advice pages with relevant information if you are currently abroad. Check our travel advice for your location regularly and sign-up to email alerts.

“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.”

If the local authority where you are proposes to quarantine you for your own protection, you should follow their advice. When you are abroad, your safety and security is their responsibility.

If there are suspected cases of coronavirus where you are, you may need to remain in your hotel room or accommodation for 14 days, move to quarantine facilities, take tests for coronavirus and, if positive in some cases, be hospitalised abroad.

You should also contact your airline or travel company, and your insurance provider as soon as you can. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.

What if I absolutely have to travel?

If you really must travel – perhaps for business – the Foreign Office offer the following advice:

- contact your airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers to make sure you can still travel

- read the details of your travel insurance carefully, and check that you are covered, and contact your insurer if you are uncertain. You may need to consider a specialist policy

- make sure you can access money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. Take more than one means of payment with you

- be prepared to follow the advice of local authorities abroad. Be ready to comply with local isolation or quarantine requirements, and to rely on the local health system

- make sure you have enough medication with you in case you are abroad longer than planned

- be prepared for logistical and financial disruption to your travel

- arrange extra support for family members, dependants or pets who may need care if you are abroad longer than planned

- check travel advice for your destination regularly and sign-up to email alerts

Is there anywhere safe to travel?

It's hard to know at the moment, and until the full extent of the coronavirus is understood, the advice will likely to remain at home unless you absolutely have to travel.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions,” say the FCO. “All countries may restrict travel without notice.”

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly.

The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government advice

As of the 12 March the Government has moved into the "delay" phase of its plan to tackle coronavirus. Advice is that anyone with a continuous cough or high temperature should self-isolate for seven days.

People over 70 have been advised not to go on cruises and schools advised to cancel trips abroad, though schools remain open.

Should I avoid public places?

Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS