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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)

  • JohnT says:

    The stats used should also state how many active cases? Anyone who had it and has recovered is surely no longer a risk, eg after 15 days?

  • Gordon says:

    The Virgin Atlantic flight stays on the ground from 10.20pm to 7am so not sure taking a crew out with the flight would make any difference.

  • Charlieface says:

    Israel have just screwed up their peak Passover season, both for tourists, and for residents who want to travel abroad to family.

  • Peter says:

    There is another side to Covid-19.

    We are just completing a four-week tour of Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore. Our timing appears to have been very fortuitous as there have been no travel restrictions. However, Covid-19 really is decimating the tourist industry of these countries – and using decimating in the proper sense of reducing tourism by 90%.

    A lot of the tourist spots are empty, which has been great for us, and the markets and shops are suffering just as badly. But when our group checked out of our hotel in Siem Reap this morning there was virtually nobody staying on beyond our group.

    The locals are really concerned about where their income is going to come from – how they are even going to survive. Some government actions are making things worse for them. Some countries may be facing a different humanitarian disaster than just directly from Covid-19 cases.

    • mark2 says:

      The proper sense of decimation is killing every tenth person as practised by the Roman Army.

    • Shoestring says:

      (Actually decimate means remove one tenth.) That’s an interesting perspective – but containment/ delay/ research/ mitigate strategy will have serious consequences for wealth creation, globally – obvs without wealth creation you get poverty & worse outcomes in all sort of areas – but people see defeating Covid-19 as more important in the short term

      • Lady London says:

        not defeating, as coronavirus in cats and common cold in humans has resisted attempts to defeat.

        Given the nature of human beings as evidenced by early comments on here saying they were not going to admit they had been to a contaminated area if it might deny them entry somewhere or cause them to be asked to quarantine themselves, frankly the cat is out of the bag and will spread and not be able to be contained effectively in many places no matter what the measures. It’s going to be around killing especially the old and the weak for a long time. If it mutates we could be in even more trouble.

        Since it’s unrealistic to contain it in any country with land borders or accepting flights, for example, then I think the current measures are really aimed at slowing the rate of infection so that health and social systems can cope.

        Where we are now with AIDS has made me hopeful but we are not getting rid of this virus anytime soon

  • Following on behind says:

    Suspension of visa waiver for UK citizens; The Vietnamese government has suspended the visa waiver programme for UK citizens with effect of 12 March 2020; Anyone travelling ahead of that time should check with their airline in advance as a precaution (Entry requirements and Health)

    https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam?utm_source=637e181c-0acf-4b93-92d9-38f4d59771cc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

  • Muzer says:

    I’m booked to fly out on BA Saturday morning for a holiday, and back the following Friday morning. Obviously this holiday will be cancelled. What is my best bet with regards to maximising the likelihood of getting a full refund? I have travel insurance but would rather not mess about with that unless I have to. My flights are on two separate diagrams (not sure if that’s the term in the air industry, it is in the rail industry!) so I imagine if BA are going to cancel flights at least one of them will be cancelled, so I should be able to get a full refund if that happens.

  • David says:

    VS would have to re-schedule VS454 TLV LHR (and/or VS 453 LHR TLV) since return crew would otherwise have to wait 8 hours on board before flying back to London!

  • Richard Sands says:

    The Vietnamese are still honouring existing visas including e-visas. They will also issue new visas for people travelling as part of organised tours where the tour agency can arrange any medical care that might be needed. Any independent travellers who don’t already have visas won’t be able to travel though. I heard this directly from the visa staff at the embassy today.