From the Government:
Plan to fly tourists stranded abroad home
More tourists stranded abroad because of coronavirus will be able to get back to the UK following an arrangement struck between the government and the airline industry.
The global travel situation caused by coronavirus has led to many people becoming stranded overseas. This is an unprecedented challenge with many countries closing borders and imposing travel restrictions with little warning. This has left many UK travellers struggling to get home.
Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Titan Airways have today signed a memorandum of understanding negotiated by the Foreign Secretary and Transport Secretary. British Airways have also made clear that they will work in the national interest to get people home, and other airlines are expected to join. The Secretaries of State have published a joint letter to the airlines. The government is focused on getting Brits home through a twin-track approach:
- airlines recognising their responsibility for transporting their passengers with pre-booked tickets home, through offering them alternatives where routes are cancelled, allowing them to change tickets, where permissible – including between carriers – and offering them the latest information and advice as the situation changes
- where commercial routes do not exist, the government will provide up to £75 million financial support to enable special charter flights – operated by the airlines above and others – to fly to priority countries to bring back UK residents
Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said:
This is a worrying time for many British citizens travelling abroad. We’ve already worked with airlines and governments to enable hundreds of thousands to return home on commercial flights, and we will keep as many of those options open as possible.
Where commercial flights are not possible, we will build on the earlier charter flights we organised back from China, Japan, Cuba, Ghana and Peru. The arrangements agreed today will provide a clearer basis to organise special charter flights where Britons find themselves stranded. Our priority will always be the most vulnerable.
Special charter flights for countries with no commercial routes will be prioritised according to the number of stranded British travellers and their vulnerability, including an assessment of the local health provision. In some places, access for flights to land and the ability to move around within the country to assemble for return flights will also be decisive factors.
British tourists stranded abroad who want to return to the UK should first check if there are commercial routes available by visiting the airline websites, FCO travel advice pages for the country they are in and local British embassy social media.
If there are no commercial options, they should visit the travel advice pages and sign up to alerts for their location and follow embassy social media and email updates. When special return flights become available, these will be advertised by the embassy and British nationals on Travel Advice Pages and Embassy social media and those who have registered for updates will be contacted via email. British nationals will be asked to register their interest through our booking agents CTM.
Where people are in real need, our consular teams will work with them to consider their options. As a last resort, the Foreign Office will offer an emergency loan.
Safer recruitment re NHS volunteers, etc
In response to coronavirus (COVID-19), the Home Office and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have put temporary arrangements in place, to provide DBS checks and fast-track emergency checks of the Adults’ and Children’s Barred Lists free-of-charge.
This will apply to healthcare and social care workers being recruited in connection with the provision of care and treatment of coronavirus in England and Wales, including some of those who have volunteered to help the NHS.
These arrangements will provide employers with the option to appoint new recruits into regulated activity with adults and/or children, as long as the individuals are not barred and appropriate measures are put in place to manage the individual until the full DBS check is received.
DBS works to support recruiters and voluntary organisations by allowing employers to make safer recruitment decisions. The whole country is coming together to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and thousands of volunteers have come forward to support the health service although the vast majority of these people will not require a DBS check.