I am receiving many messages about British nationals abroad trying to return to the UK and, of course, my heart goes out to all those in difficulty abroad and their families and friends. I’m in constant contact with ministers and the FCO to support the national effort, pass up suggestions and to raise specifics cases for constituents trying to get home.
I know the FCO consular teams are working around the clock to provide the most accurate and up to date information to UK nationals abroad. FCO travel advice is constantly updated and I know ministers continue to keep advice under close and constant review. UK consular teams are also working with those who are affected by difficult quarantine conditions and the UK will do everything in its power to get those British nationals affected the care, support and advice they need.
I understand FCO teams around the world are working urgently to ensure that governments have sensible plans to enable the return of British travellers and to keep borders open for a sufficient period of time to enable returns to take place on commercial flights, wherever possible.
Where commercial options are limited or prevented by domestic restrictions, we are in close contact with the airlines and local authorities in those countries to overcome those barriers to enable people to return home.
The FCO, and indeed across the diplomatic network, are engaging with numerous governments to keep commercial routes open, particularly in transit hubs.
First of all, all travellers are advised to take a look at the Travel Advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice online. It is the best and most comprehensive source of information, and it is updated in real time.
If people are in need of urgent assistance, they should call our Embassies and High Commissions. They will be automatically connected to our consular contact centres – the global centres based in Malaga and Ottawa.
We know that there has been considerable pressure, because of the restrictions being placed by countries around the world and the rate at which it is being done with limited or no notice. We have doubled our capacity; we are now doubling it again to deal with the surge in demand.
We are helping to reduce travel costs by encouraging airlines to have maximum flexibility on changing return tickets. Where people are in real need, our consular teams will work with them to consider their options and, as a last resort, we offer an emergency loan.
Of course, this is a fast-moving situation and you can keep up to date with travel advice on the FCO website here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus and follow the FCO on social media @FCOtravel for country specific updates.
British nationals and family/friends in UK are advised to do the following:
subscribe to alerts for the country they are in https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. Updates are occurring regularly;
follow Embassy/Consulate Social Media (search UK in [country name] on Twitter/Facebook);
contact their airline, travel company, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers;
get in touch with insurance provider; and
continue to follow the NHS coronavirus guidance https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ .
If you or a member of your family are struggling to get home then please refer to the above advice (and keep checking Travel Advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice as it may change over the coming days) and please do also email me – firstname.lastname@example.org - with details of your particular circumstances and I will help in any way I can.