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Coronavirus: Italy in full lockdown, Israel 14-days quarantine, Vietnam blocks UK passport holders

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There were three core travel-related coronavirus updates on Monday evening.

All of Italy has been placed under lockdown

The ‘lockdown’ in place in Northern Italy will be extended to the entire country on Tuesday morning.

It is not yet clear what the impact on travel will be.  It is very likely that the majority of flights from the UK to Italy will have to be suspended, as happened on Sunday evening to Milan and Venice.

All visitors to Israel must undergo 14 days enforced quarantine

As was rumoured, the Israeli Government will make everyone wishing to enter the country – from any destination – undergo 14 days quarantine.

If you cannot prove on arrival that you have arranged to spend 14 days in quarantine in a private house, you will not be allowed entry.

It is not clear at this point if all flights will be suspended although it seems likely.  It is possible, for example, that the aircraft could fly down with the return crew onboard.  Regulations forbid the same crew from returning immediately due to the length of the flight.

As of 10pm on Monday, Virgin Atlantic is still showing Tel Aviv flights as departing but is not selling any tickets.  British Airways was still selling tickets.

Here is the Foreign Office guidance:

On 9 March 2020 Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that all arrivals entering Israel from overseas would be subject to home quarantine measures for 14 days on public health grounds, this decision will be reviewed in 14 days. We understand that visitors who are unable to demonstrate they can undertake the home quarantine measures will be refused entry in to Israel. We recommend checking Israel’s Ministry of Health website for updated information.

UK citizens banned from Vietnam due to coronavirus

Vietnam bans UK passport holders from entering the country without a visa

EDIT:  The UK Government is now stating that the enforcement of this rule has been pushed back to Friday, presumably because passengers are already in transit.

Vietnam has suspended visa-free travel for UK passport holders.

The ban also applies to citizens of Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Passport holders from all of the eight countries will no longer qualify for the ‘visa waiver’ programme which allows a stay of up to 15 days.  Bans on travellers from South Korea and Italy are already in place.

Anyone with flight tickets to Vietnam will now need to apply for a visa (e-visa is not acceptable) via the Embassy in Kensington.  It is not clear under what circumstances a visa would be granted to a UK passport holder as it is impossible to guarantee you will be free of coronavirus on the day you fly.

British Airways does not fly to Vietnam, with Vietnam Airlines offering the only direct flights.

Here is the official Foreign Office wording – this was issued on Sunday before the imposition of the ban on Monday:

The Vietnamese authorities are implementing extensive steps to mitigate the risks of infection, including health screening at airports and land borders. People showing signs of respiratory illness on arrival in Vietnam, those who have travelled from an area with confirmed cases or those that have come in to contact with people who have tested positive for coronavirus can expect to be checked and potentially quarantined. Anyone confirmed as having coronavirus, including foreigners, can expect to be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the local authorities.

The Vietnamese authorities have also announced travel restrictions and quarantine requirements:

On 8 March, the Vietnamese Government announced plans to suspend the visa waiver programme for UK and other European nationals. This change could be implemented at very short notice. British citizens planning to enter Vietnam on the visa waiver programme should check before travelling.

Anyone who has visited China, Iran, Italy or Daegu city and Gyeongsangbuk province in South Korea in the previous 14 days will be refused entry to Vietnam. The only exceptions will be people with specific agreement travelling on official government business.

Flights from South Korea are being diverted to alternative airports, some a considerable distance away from the scheduled place of entry in to Vietnam.

The Vietnamese government has recommended that citizens wear masks in public, and it has introduced special permits for anyone seeking to organise large public events.

Comments (106)

  • ChrisD says:

    Qatar government has also banned entry from many Asian countries including Thailand, unless you’re in transit without a stopover.

    Details on QA website.

  • Following on behind says:

    Very misleading headline. Where does it say that UK passport holders are banned from Vietnam? I’m due to go Thursday.

    It simply says:
    “On 8 March, the Vietnamese Government announced plans to suspend the visa waiver programme for UK and other European nationals. This change could be implemented at very short notice.”

    • Andy says:

      How do you envisage getting a visa then?

    • marcw says:

      Well, you need a visa to enter Vietnam. E-Visa is not valid either.

    • David says:

      In the article from the GOV.UK, it said ‘plans to suspend’, there is no such statement in the Vietnam Embassy London’s website. @Rob: can you please clarify when is this effective, in case you have insider information?

    • Rob says:

      That is from the 8th. Monday was the 9th and it was implemented then.

      You’re not going.

      Visit any of the websites which process Vietnam visas or read the Evening Standard website piece if you need confirmation.

    • Nick says:

      The headline is not at all misleading – you should apologise to Rob Burgess for your rather rude reply. The ban was implemented on 9th after the warning on 8th. E-visas are no longer valid so unless the Vietnamese Embassy issue you with a visa which seems unlikely, you are not travelling on Thursday.

      • Callum says:

        Well, the page title says “Vietnam bans British citizens”, which isn’t true. Millions will have a second passport they can use instead. The article also doesn’t mention anything about cancelling existing visas and the assumption that they’ll refuse to grant visas is exactly that. Rob asks why they’d grant a visa. How about I’m British but I can demonstrate I’ve been living in a country unaffected by the virus for the past year and haven’t been in the UK etc? Suspending automatic approvals and judging it on a case by case basis seems somewhat logical – it’s not necessarily a blanket ban.

        Gotta love the Rob fan club though – always entertaining!

        • Fariel says:

          Dont assume things please logic would say they indeed check where you are from and not your nationality. However, we are from London one of us has an italian passport and Vietnam did not approve visa nor could we get an approval letter. We even tried a suggestion to buy a business visa for 250£ and that was denied too. Without visa you cannot enter = ban of EU/UK nationals.

          • Susie says:

            I was able to get a letter of approval (received it today) so don’t know whether they are treating Italian passport holders differently. The situation is so fluid and the Vietnamese are quite righty reacting quickly to an ever-changing situation so I am still not clear whether we will be allowed entry with the approval letter.

          • Fariel says:

            The same ban that initially targeted Italians applies now to most EU and UK. Good luck.

        • Rob says:

          Any country with over 500 cases is banned. Unless you have a Falkland Islands passport your odds are slim 🙂

        • Thomas Howard says:

          You could turn up at a border in union flag underpants singing “god save the queen”, in a thick English/Scottish/welsh/northern Irish accent, if you present an Irish passport you’re entering as an Irish citizen not a Brit.

      • Lady London says:

        You can rely on the airline not to let you on the flight if there’s any doubt.

      • Following on behind says:

        Nick if Rob quotes the facts that’s fine. If he interprets the facts to provide his view, it should be flagged as such rather than implied as a fact. It’s important we stick to facts during these times. I find it hard to understand why someone wouldn’t simply quote the UK government rather than try and interpret the state of play themselves.

        I read the Economist, they frequently make mistakes and correct them. That is all I am asking for. We’re dealing with people’s holidays and lives here. It is reasonable to ask for clarity.

        • Rob says:

          But you agree you’re not going? 🙂

          • Following on behind says:

            I honestly don’t know if I am going or not.

            That’s the point.

            You don’t know either, you just have a well informed opinion.

            The article still states I am banned. It was wrong. It’s still showing the wrong effective date.

            Rob, please take a breath here. People make mistakes, that’s fine. Just correct it and stop spinning this out.

            Someone might have read your article and decided not to go to Vietnam on Tuesday because they were “banned”. That should be their choice based on the facts.

            This is a great website with great integrity, let’s keep it that way.

          • Following on behind says:

            *correction* the article states:

            “Vietnam bans UK passport holders from entering the country without a visa.”

            The use of “ban” here is correct

  • Andrew says:

    Your headline regarding Vietnam is incorrect – no ban exists, just visa-free entry is suspended. Those are two different things.

    • Rob says:

      That depends on whether visas will be issued to UK citizens, which seems unlikely.

      • riku2 says:

        what if you already have the visa? I went to India last year and got a 1 year visa on arrival. If India suspends visas on arrival that does not mean I am blocked from going to India. I already have the visa. Seems the same here.

        • Erico1875 says:

          You can’t get an India visa on arrival for Uk citizens. 30 day
          E visa is minimum.

          • riku2 says:

            I have a UK passport and the visa was stamped into the passport when I arrived in India. It’s valid for a year. I call this a “visa on arrival” because I got the visa when I arrived. Before I got to India I had no visa and after arriving I have a one year visa. I had to apply online before arrival but until I queued at the desk in Bangalore airport I did not have a visa in my passport. visa on arrival.

        • Dominic says:

          Call it what you like, that isn’t a visa on arrival. You have to fill out a 4 page form before you get there…

    • Fariel says:

      Its a complete ban we’ve been to the Vietnamese embassy here in Singapore they do not care and told us without a sponsor from Vietnam who will take responsibility in cause you have corona virus, you cannot enter

      • Sam G says:

        This is correct, your “sponser” needs to get you a letter from the Vietnamese immigration authority before you can apply at the embassy for a visa. I can’t imagine this being possible for tourists. So effectively Vietnam is no longer an option with a UK (or the various other) passports

  • Nick says:

    How come ‘regulations’ mean BA crew can’t work there and back to Israel but easyJet and Wizz crews can? Surely it’s union working practice arrangements rather than regulations?

    • Charlieface says:

      Turnaround on EZY is much lower than BA in Israel, 1hr vs 3hr IIRC

      • ADS says:

        BA163 lands 03:55 and BA162 departs 06:20
        BA165 lands 14:50 and BA164 departs 16:40

        EZY2083 lands 14:15 and EZY2084 departs 15:10
        EZY2085 lands 18:40 and EZY2086 departs 19:35

        W94451 lands 21:05 and W94452 21:55

  • David says:

    I have found this statement from the Vietnam Government Portal:
    http://news.chinhphu.vn/Home/Govt-temporarily-suspends-unilateral-visa-exemption-for-8-countries-due-to-COVID19-outbreak/20203/39094.vgp

    I’ll need to head to the Embassy to get a visa since flying out on Friday night.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Do report back but I’d be prepared for plan B Incase they reject a visa.

      • Andy says:

        I wouldn’t be hopeful of them granting any visas during the period…it would defeat the objective of their controls.

        • The Original David says:

          Given the latest Vietnamese outbreak was caused by a Vietnamese lady flying back to Vietnam from London after going to a fashion event in Milan, then letting their own citizens back into their country also “defeats the objective of their controls”.

          • Lee says:

            I was going to go Vietnam for gp but just cancelled with this news . I’ve just released points redemption back onto ihg system if anyone else is going f1 still in hanoi 25k points per night intercontinental Westlake.

  • joe bloggs says:

    glad now that i cancelled my asia trip. Was due to fly KUL-DAD on monday 9th.

  • Michael C says:

    Why the category 2 classification for, say, Singapore/Malaysia/Thailand, which currently have 67/93/16 (!!!) ongoing cases, but not for Germany/France/Spain, all with over 1000?!

  • Andrew MS says:

    Oh dear , i just landed KL via MUC and Abu Dhabi to fly to Phu Quoc . Time for a plan B !

    • The Original David says:

      Try a domestic Malaysian flight instead! Plenty of cheap last-minute options to Penang, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, I can see them on the departure board in the KUL domestic lounge right now…