Britons told to decide for themselves what constitutes ‘essential travel’ when FCO changes guidelines

Noble Horvath

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has continually updated its advice for Britons planning trips abroad during the coronavirus pandemic. For some destinations, such as Spain and Portugal, the UK government has guided against ‘all but essential travel’. And, as it continues to monitor numbers of coronavirus infections, more countries […]

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has continually updated its advice for Britons planning trips abroad during the coronavirus pandemic.

For some destinations, such as Spain and Portugal, the UK government has guided against ‘all but essential travel’. And, as it continues to monitor numbers of coronavirus infections, more countries have been added – most notably France and the Netherlands earlier this week.

Most package holidays and flights have been cancelled because these are deemed to be non-essential, but MirrorOnline has attempted to determine what is classed as essential.

Essentially, it depends on a case-by-case basis – and the FCO leaves it down to the traveller to decide for themselves.

The FCO explains on  its website  : “Sometimes we say that only essential travel is advised. Whether travel is essential or not is your own decision.

“You may have urgent family or business commitments to attend to. Circumstances differ from person to person. Only you can make an informed decision based on the risks.”

A word of caution – if anyone chooses to travel against FCO guidelines, most travel insurance is likely to be invalidated. If you absolutely need to travel, check your policy and get in touch with your provider.

If you do choose to travel during the pandemic when the FCO advises against this, it’s likely you will need to quarantine when you return to the UK.

Anyone not insured who develops coronavirus and is hospitalised, or those restricted by a local lockdown could be hit with some hefty costs.

Before booking a trip, always check the latest FCO advice for your destination – you can search for your chosen country on the  FCO list here

‘All but essential’ travel advice isn’t always related to coronavirus – it’s worth noting that the FCO also uses this when it deems there to be other risks, for example natural disasters, civil unrest or even terrorist threats.

The FCO clarifies: “We sometimes advise against all travel or all but essential travel to a particular place.

“In cases of non-terrorist threats like coups, civil unrest or natural disasters we will advise against travel only when we consider the risk to British nationals is unacceptably high.

“In the case of terrorism we will only advise against travel in situations of extreme and imminent danger, where the threat is sufficiently specific, large-scale or endemic to affect British nationals severely.”

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