People in Britain have been told to avoid all non-essential foreign travel to tackle the spread of coronavirus as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against travel to anywhere in the world for the first time ever.
The travel restrictions will be in place for 30 days initially but could be extended, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the House of Commons.
Other countries are also bringing in border controls in response to the pandemic with the Irish government today advising that anyone travelling to Ireland, including the UK but not Northern Ireland, would be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
“UK travellers abroad now face widespread international border restrictions and lockdowns in various countries. The speed and range of those measures across other countries is unprecedented,” Mr Raab said in a statement.
The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK has reached 56.
More than 1,500 people have tested positive for the virus in the UK – but the actual number of cases could be as high as 55,000.
British people currently abroad do not have to immediately return to the UK – except for those in a few countries detailed in the travel advice.
But the FCO said travellers should bear in mind that flights could be cancelled at short notice as foreign countries grapple with restrictions being imposed by their own authorities.
Mr Raab said anyone who is still considering foreign travel should be “realistic about the level of disruption they are willing and able to endure”.
This comes a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson instructed that:
- Everyone should avoid gatherings with friends and family, as well as large gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres
- People should avoid non-essential travel and work from home if they can
- All “unnecessary” visits to friends and relatives in care homes should cease
- People should only use the NHS “where we really need to”
- By next weekend, those with the most serious health conditions must be “largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks”
- If one person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days
- Those people should, if possible, avoid leaving the house “even to buy food or essentials” – but they may leave the house “for exercise and, in that case, at a safe distance from others”