Expats with plans to return to the UK are urged to do so now if commercial flights are available.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is worried air travel is limited and land borders are closing, which will leave expats, overseas workers and tourists stranded abroad.
In a stark warning, the FCO wants Brits abroad to contact their airline or travel company immediately and to keep reading the online travel advice pages for the latest updates.
“We are working with airlines to keep routes open, and calling for international action to to keep routes open to enable British people can return home on commercial flights. We are also working around the clock to support those British travellers who are already finding difficulties to come back to the UK,” said a Foreign Office spokesman.
“If you are a permanent resident overseas, you should stay and follow the advice of the local authorities in the country you live in.
“Our travel advice has changed. If you are usually based in the UK, you should return to the UK now, if flights are still available.”
The FCO is restating earlier advice to all British people to avoid non-essential travel worldwide and has published the following advice:
- Contact your airline, travel company or transport provider now to book your trip to the UK
- If you have travel insurance, contact your insurance company
- Consider a range of options: you may need to travel to another country to get back to the UK. Check travel advice pages for the latest information on any travel restrictions that could affect your travel plans
- Keep up-to-date with ‘return to the UK’ guidance for each country on the FCO web site and sign-up to email alerts for notification if the situation changes
What to do if stranded
Travellers who cannot return to the UK should find suitable accommodation and follow social distancing and isolation advice from the local authorities.
“If there are suspected cases of coronavirus where you are, you may need to remain in your hotel room or accommodation for 14 days, move to quarantine facilities, take tests for coronavirus and, if positive in some cases, be hospitalised abroad,” said the spokesman.
“You should also contact your airline or travel company, and your insurance provider as soon as you can. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.”