BREAKING NEWS: UK citizens told to avoid non-essential travel GLOBALLY for 30 days in coronavirus lockdown
- Dominic Raab is expected to announce fresh travel advice in Commons later
- Foreign Office is already advising against non-essential travel to much of world
- Boris Johnson has urged Britons to avoid social contact to tackle coronavirus
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Dominic Raab (pictured today) is expected to upgrade the UK’s travel advice as he appears before MPs in the House of Commons later
UK citizens were told to avoid all non-essential travel anywhere in the world today as the Government tried to battle the coronaviris pandemic.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britons should avoid travel ‘globally’ under new travel advice from the Foreign Office.
The new rules will initially be in place for 30 days but will be ‘subject to ongoing revision’ he told the House of Commons.
‘Based on the fast-changing international circumstances today I am announcing changes to FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) travel advice,’ he told MPs.
‘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.’
The shift comes after EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced outlined plans for a 30-day ban on all non-essential inflows to the bloc.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britons should avoid travel ‘globally’ under new travel advice from the Foreign Office
The restrictions, set to be signed off in a conference call by national leaders later, do not apply to Britons or freight.
The Foreign Office has already advised against ‘all but essential’ travel to many parts of the world due to the risk posed by the virus, or the risk of being cut off as transport links are shut.
Many European countries have announced their own containment measures to try and get a grip on the pandemic, including shutting their doors to foreign nationals.
Canada, Norway and Denmark are among a host of countries who have announced emergency border closures in a bid to impede the spread of the pandemic.
The US has also barred all foreign nationals.
Boris Johnson dramatically ramped up the government’s response to the crisis last night, urging Britons to avoid all ‘non-essential’ social contact, shunning pubs, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and clubs.
At an historic press conference in Downing Street, the PM warned that the coronavirus was now in a phase of rapid spread across the UK, with London seeing a particular surge.
Arrivals at Heathrow Terminal 5 was busy today, while the departures area was much quieter
He said everyone should avoid contact that is not absolutely necessary – with restaurants, bars and cinemas and travel off limits, and an end to large gatherings. Admitting that the squeeze could last 12 weeks or even longer, Mr Johnson acknowledged he was ‘asking a lot’.
Entire households should self-isolate for two weeks if one person has been showing symptoms, and older people should prepare to stay away from risks for months to come. He said that meant ‘you should not go out, even to buy food or essentials’.
But unlike New York – where all bars and restaurants were compelled to close by 8pm local time last night – Mr Johnson said he would rely on businesses and Britons to follow guidance.
Mr Johnson also said he was not yet ordering schools to be closed, saying he still believed it could make matters worse.
As the UK coronavirus death toll spiked to 55, the PM said: ‘If necessary, you should ask for help from others for your daily necessities. If that is not possible, you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get supplies.’
‘Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and stop all non-essential travel. We need people to start working from home where they possible can. You should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.’
In a special plea to the capital, Mr Johnson said people there were at the highest risk. ‘It looks as though London is now a few weeks ahead… it’s important that Londoners now pay special attention to what we are saying about avoiding all non-essential contact.’
Mr Johnson was flanked by Chief medical officer Chris Whitty (left) and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance (right) at the press conference in Downing Street tonight
The Tube in West London was eerily quiet this morning as the government’s lockdown advice was heeded