Brits advised against all 'non-essential travel' abroad due to coronavirus
17 March 2020, 12:36 | Updated: 17 March 2020, 12:53
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said British citizens are being advised against non-essential foreign travel for 30 days.
Borders around the globe have slammed shut in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic with Canada, Norway and Denmark among the latest countries to go into lockdown and the UK one of the latest to issue travel advice to citizens.
In a Commons statement, he told MPs: "Based on the fast-changing international circumstances today I am announcing changes to FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) travel advice.
"UK travellers abroad now face widespread international border restrictions and lockdowns in various countries.
"The FCO will always consider the safety and the security of British nationals so with immediate effect I've taken the decision to advise British nationals against non-essential travel globally for an initial period of 30 days and of course subject to ongoing review."
In a statement, the FCO said: "Anyone still planning to travel should check the validity of their travel insurance."
The department revealed UK inward and outward travel has already fallen by a significant amount since the outbreak started. Ryanair, Virgin and EasyJet have cut flights by 80% this month and IAG has decreased capacity by 75%.
A spokesperson said: "We will continue to do everything in our power to get those British nationals affected the care, support and advice they need. We are also working urgently to ensure international governments have sensible plans to enable the return of British and other travellers and, crucially, that they keep borders open for enough time to allow people to return home on commercial flights.
"British people who become ill overseas should, in the first instance, seek care and support from the country they are in.
"This guidance follows the domestic measures announced by the Prime Minister on Monday and forms part of the national effort to meet the international challenge presented by coronavirus."
Explaining the advised travel restrictions, Dominic Raab told MPs: "This decision has been taken based on the domestic measures introduced in the UK alongside the changes to border and a range of other restrictions which are now being taken right around the world.
"The speed and the range of those measures across other countries is unprecedented, some of those decisions are being made without notice.
"In some countries, even in countries or particular areas 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."