Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises UK nationals to halt all non-essential international travel. Also, many countries have already imposed travel restrictions and border closures to prevent unnecessary foreign travel.
The Foreign Office has also been advising those UK nationals who are out of the country to return back subject to the availability of commercial flights.
According to the FCO website, “International travel is becoming very limited as air routes close, land borders close and new restrictions are put in place that prevents flights from leaving.”
“We are working with airlines to keep routes open, and calling for international action to keep routes open to enable British people [to] return home on commercial flights. We are also working around the clock to support those British travellers who are already finding difficulties in coming back to the UK. If you are a permanent resident overseas, you should stay and follow the advice of the local authorities in the country you live in.”
The website also highlights that the UK citizens who live in other countries must follow the advice of the local authorities and take all instructed precautions to minimize the exposure and risk of spread. These measures include self-isolation (i.e. to self-isolate yourself in your hotel room for 14 days) or being shifted to quarantine facilities arranged by the local government. Travellers who need to get assistance regarding immigration or visas are advised to get in touch with the local immigration authorities in the country they live in or they can also contact UK embassy situated in that country. It is also advised to keep in touch with your immigration lawyer to know recent updates about visa extensions and immigration procedures.
The UK Government also announced that it was collaborating with different airlines to arrange flights to help bring UK citizens home. Also, in certain situations, the government may take a decision to offer an emergency loan to arrange rescue flights back to the country.
While the Foreign Office has advised UK nationals to delay all non-essential travel for an initial period of 30 days, this restriction was then extended on 4th April for an unknown period of time. And, this is not only UK that’s putting ban and restrictions on international travel as border closures and travel bans are increasing all over the world to reduce the spread of this disease.
It’s also important to understand that the word ‘Essential Travel’ doesn’t involve going out for holidays, caravan parks, or visiting campsites. It’s important for people to stay at their primary residence.
Currently, both airlines and insurance providers are following the Foreign Office advice and if you do anything against those stated policies or measures, you risk abrogating your insurance coverage. In some cases, the insurance companies will maintain cover if your trip is unavoidable even if it is against the advice provided by the FCO.
The Foreign Office is persistently updating its guidelines and is warding off all but unavoidable international trips for at least a month. Your airline is responsible to give you a refund if your flight has been cancelled due to the current situation.
In addition to that, airlines are also responsible to get travellers home if their return flight is cancelled. Many airlines have also arranged special rescue flights to get passengers home from different countries around the globe.
Also, a number of popular airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are allowing passengers to rebook flights without paying any additional cost.
Also, many hotels in locked-down regions are also accommodating refund requests or giving an option to rebook without any deduction. Insurance companies are instructing policyholders that they must ask their airlines first to either rebook or refund.
It’s noteworthy that many insurance companies have currently halted selling new policies in the wake of the pandemic. Currently, travellers are looking for ‘disruption covers’ that should provide coverage for unused hotel bookings or car rentals, etc. However, many insurance policies do not currently have this option.
According to the Association of British Insurers, the purpose of travel insurance is to cope with unforeseen events, and the current outbreak no longer fulfilled that criteria.
Noticeably, FCO has also advised the elderly or those with underlying health conditions to avoid travel for an indefinite period of time.
The current pandemic calls for mindful decisions regarding international travelling. People looking to travel abroad in the coming days must visit the Home Office’s website to know about current policy changes and recent updates. Also, don’t forget to carefully review your insurance coverage to see which specific clauses are included.
All in all, it is important that you cancel your travelling plans if possible as other countries are also taking strict preventive measures and most of the travellers coming from other countries may have to spend at least 14 days in quarantine before they can get back to their routine.
The Coronavirus crisis will pass and we hope that life gets back to normal soon.
#Stay Home, #Stay Safe, #protect the NHS