The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is urging Britons to avoid “all but essential travel”. The authority has updated over 200 of its travel advice pages over the weekend, and is advising Britons to rethink travel plans in the latest travel advice.
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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab appeared in parliament today to take questions on travel restrictions, and stressed the importance of following government advice.
He explained: “The situation is moving very rapidly.
“The Foreign Office made more than 200 changes to our travel advice over the last weekend alone.
“We’ve also published a checklist to help British travellers think through the challenges and questions they should ask about international travel. We are in contact with the airlines for the insurance reasons.”
Raab is expected to make a further statement on travel insurance support for holidaymakers soon.
As fear around airlines and travel firms going bust in the coming months, the government has also assured it is gearing up to deal with a repatriation effort, as well as offering support to those who find themselves trapped without accommodation.
“We do want to avoid a more and more UK nationals, particularly vulnerable ones, being trapped overseas,” said Mr Raab.
He also said: “Following on from and consistent with the domestic measures announced by the Prime Minister yesterday, and based on the fast changing international circumstances today I’m announcing changes to FCO travel advice. UK travellers abroad now face widespread international border restrictions and lockdowns in various countries.
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“The FCO will always take into consideration the safety of British nationals so with immediate effect I’ve taken the decision to advise British Nationals against non-essential travel globally for a period of 30 days and of course subject to ongoing review.
“I should emphasise this decision is being taken based on the domestic measures being introduced into the UK alongside the border and a range of other restrictions which are being taken by countries right around the world. The speed and the range of these measures across other countries sis unprecedented some of those decisions are being made without notice.
“In some countries or particularly cases where there haven’t yet been any reported cases of COVID-19 local authorities are nonetheless imposing restrictions on movement, and again doing so with little or sometimes no notice whatsoever. In light of those circumstances we want to reduce the risk of leaving vulnerable British travellers or tourists stranded overseas.”
The government says it will keep this advice under review and amend it as soon as there are developments. The flow of goods is being considered essential travel and being monitored.
The news comes as airports across the UK are asking the government for support during this turbulent time for the industry.
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Air industry insiders have also warned that British airports could shut down “within weeks” if the government is unable to step in with financial aid.
When discussing how to ensure embassies are on hand to support Britons who are abroad at the time Mr Raab said: “We understand the concern of any constituents who finds themselves in a vulnerable position.
“We’ve beefed up the support we are providing. There is a parliamentary hotline for MPS and I will make sure that ministers have all the details so they can provide the most support and up to date advice to their constituents.”
The Foreign Secretary also emphasised the need for countries around the world to work together at this time.
Mr Raab also asked politicians not to “finger point” at countries and instead work on relationships to come up with he bets possible solutions to benefit the world.
Currently, the UK has a total aid envelope of £241 million of funding. Of that funding £150 million had gone to the IMF, £10 million to the WHO, £5 million to red cross and £5 million to UNICEF to help those who need it most.
At the time of writing there are more than 180,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide. So far there have been 1,543 cases of the virus confirmed in the UK.
The WHO named the virus a pandemic last week, which has seen a number of airlines including easyJet, British Airways and Ryanair adjusting and cancelling routes.
Many travel insurers are no also cancelling the sale of policies due to a rapid increase in travel insurance claims.
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