All British travellers should return to the UK now – Foreign Office
The FCO said it was working ‘around the clock’ to support those stranded abroad.
All British travellers should return to the UK as soon as possible in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said.
Updated travel advice says all British tourists and short-stay travellers should return while commercial flights are still available.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said further closures to air routes may come in the next 48 hours – possibly without notice.
Some British tourists are already experiencing difficulties due to travel restrictions and domestic policies around the globe, the FCO said, but added it was working “around the clock” to support those stranded abroad.
This advice applies to British people travelling abroad, rather than those who live overseas.
The Government said it is working with airlines to keep routes open and is calling for international action for enough time to enable international travellers to return on commercial flights.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We are strongly urging UK travellers overseas to return home now where and while there are still commercial routes to do so.
“Around the world, more airlines are suspending flights and more airports are closing, some without any notice.
“Where commercial routes don’t exist, our staff are working round the clock to give advice and support to UK nationals.
“If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can.”
A number of British nationals have said they are already experiencing difficulties trying to return to the UK, including nearly 300 people in New Zealand who are putting pressure on MPs to organise a repatriation flight.
It comes after the FCO said it had secured permission for a UK-organised flight to leave Peru, where more than 400 British and Irish citizens are believed to be stranded.
Last week, Britons were advised against non-essential travel to anywhere in the world as the Covid-19 crisis closed borders.
The advice, issued on March 17, was set to last for an initial 30-day period.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is a very difficult time for British citizens travelling overseas, or those with families and loved ones abroad.
“We’re in close contact with airlines, who are working tirelessly to ensure British citizens travelling overseas can safely return to the UK.
“We are also working closely with other government departments including the FCO to ensure airlines are able to operate to bring people back home.”
The FCO advised British travellers to contact their tour operator or airline immediately to arrange a commercial flight if they want to leave.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, advised the Government to improve its communication with Britons currently stranded abroad.
He said: “While it’s right British travellers are being urged to return to the UK, the reality is that there are now thousands of UK residents stranded in dozens of different destinations with no means to get back.
“The Government must improve its communication and provide British citizens fearful of being stranded abroad with useful advice.
“Where scheduled services have been withdrawn, it should leave no stone unturned to get these people on flights home.”
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