Coronavirus UK travel: What is non essential travel? What is classed as essential travel?

Coronavirus has infected a total of 1,543 people in the UK, of which 55 have died and 52 have fully recovered. On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson escalated the UK’s response to the outbreak, implementing new measures to protect people and reduce the spread of the illness. So why are people advised to avoid all non-essential travel and what exactly does this mean?

The coronavirus outbreak in the UK is approaching the “fast growth” phase according to Boris Johnson. 

The PM said this means cases are expected to double every five days.

Mr Johnson has urged everyone to avoid all non-essential social contact with other people and any non-essential travel. 

Other measures, such as school closures, have not been ruled out, but they will need to be introduced at the “right time”.


  • Coronavirus UK: What does non essential contact mean?

What does non-essential travel mean?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said its travel advice is constantly under review, so that it reflects its latest assessment of risks to British people.

In response to coronavirus measures the FCO are advising against all and all but essential travel to some countries, cities and regions.

The FCO warns travellers to check the travel advice to the country you are travelling to before setting off.

The FCO does not have a simple definition as to what is considered to be essential and non-essential travel.

Instead, it is up to the individual to determine in their own mind whether their journey is required.

In all circumstances where there is active travel advice warning against travel to a country, it is crucial for holidaymakers to call the insurer and get something in writing which will specify what cover will be extended to you during your trip and any exclusions.

This may be subject to change during your time away, so it is best to have followed any and all official advice and keep your insurer informed.

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  • Coronavirus EU travel ban: Will UK follow EU travel ban? Latest advice

The FCO website says it will only advise against travel when it considers “the risk to British nationals is unacceptably high.”

The FCO website reads: “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.”

The UK’s travel advice came as all European Union members were urged to shut their borders to external visitors as Europe becomes the “coronavirus epicentre”.

More than 174,000 people around the world have contracted the deadly infection, more than 60,000 of which are from European countries.

The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The less we travel, the more we can contain the virus.”

She has called for a 30-day ban on foreign travel in a bid to protect people.

She said: “Our measures to contain the Coronavirus outbreak will be effective only if we coordinate on the European level.

“We have to take exceptional measures to protect the health of our citizens.”

Exemptions will include essential travel, medical supplies, Health workers, diplomats, and passengers in transit.

British citizens will not be affected y the EU travel ban proposal, unless they opt to support this external ban as well.

Ms Von der Leyen said: “The UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent.”

She added: “The less travel, the more we can contain the virus. Therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU.

“This travel restriction should be in place for an initial period of 30 days, which can be prolonged if necessary.

“There are exemptions – long term residents in the EU, family members of EU nationals, as well as diplomats, doctors, nurses, researchers and experts.”

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