GROUNDED! BRITONS WARNED NOT TO FLY; AS EU IS SET TO BAN ALL BUT ESSENTIAL TRAVEL AND LONDON FACES TOUGH NEW MEASURES Fears NHS Will Struggle to Cope Even under the New Measures

The Evening Standard (London, England), March 17, 2020 | Go to article overview

GROUNDED! BRITONS WARNED NOT TO FLY; AS EU IS SET TO BAN ALL BUT ESSENTIAL TRAVEL AND LONDON FACES TOUGH NEW MEASURES Fears NHS Will Struggle to Cope Even under the New Measures


Byline: Nicholas Cecil and Sophia Sleigh

BRITAIN was grounded today with the Government advising against non-essential travel abroad as the global battle against coronavirus was ramped up.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the drastic measure in the Commons this afternoon. He told MPs: "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.

"The FCO will always consider the safety and 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."

He also warned Britons abroad that they risked being stranded by restrictions in other countries.

The FCO is not currently advising British people to immediately return to the UK if they are overseas, except for a few countries detailed in travel advice.

"However, British people should keep in mind that Continued on Page 4 Continued from Page 1 flights may be cancelled at short notice or other travel restrictions may be put in place by foreign governments," the FCO added.

Mr Raab emphasised that the Government was working to ensure that freight international links are kept open to ensure food and other supplies such as medicines.

Airlines including BA, Easyjet, Ryanair, and Virgin Atlantic are already slashing the number of flights.

The European Commission was planning to ban all non-essential travel throughout Europe's Schengen freetravel zone which includes Germany, France, Denmark, the Baltic States, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was due to ask EU leaders today to implement the measure as more countries, including France, shut their land borders. "The less travel, the more we can contain the virus," she said.

Australia advised all its citizens abroad who want to return home to do so immediately because of disruption caused by the coronavirus.

"As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult," the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in updated guidance posted on its website on Tuesday.

"You may not be able to return to Australia when you had planned to."

In Westminster, ministers are ready to order a "harder" London-specific clampdown soon on socialising to limit deaths from a looming surge in coronavirus cases.

Plans are being drawn up for regional responses to a spiralling Covid-19 epidemic which is already starting in the capital amid fears that hospitals will struggle to cope.

An urgent review of whether to close schools is being carried out. So far the advice has been to avoid such a move, but if it were to happen it is most likely to be imposed in London first. …

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