This article on Coronavirus: Travel restrictions affecting international students in the UK was published by the Great British Mag content team on 13 February, 2020
With the spread of the new coronavirus, international students from East Asia—particularly those from mainland China—who are living in the UK might wonder if they can get home within the next couple of months. And whether those that travelled home recently can come back to the UK and how this will impact their studies.
What are the travel restrictions?
At the time of writing, the UK Government has issued some guidelines for travelling to China. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to Wuhan and Hubei Province, as well as “all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao).”
As a result, some airlines travelling from the UK to China have suspended flights. British Airways has suspended all flights to Beijing and Shanghai until 29 February. Similarly, Virgin Atlantic has suspended all flights to Shanghai until 28 March. Depending on how far the coronavirus spreads, more UK airlines could cancel flights to mainland China or existing suspensions could be extended.
Advice if you have travelled to Wuhan or the Hubei Province
The National Health Service (NHS) advise you should self-isolate and call your local health authority (regardless of your state of health) to notify them of your recent travel if you have returned from the following destinations in the last 14 days or you are in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus.
Wuhan or the Hubei Province in China in the last 14 days (even if you do not have symptoms)
Other parts of China, including Macau and Hong Kong, in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if it’s mild)
Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea or Malaysia and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if it’s mild)
I need to leave the UK because my visa is expiring
The Visa and Immigration division of the UK Home Office confirmed they’re working on a “short-term operational response” and hope to have full guidance soon. According to UKCISA, the government is “developing a mechanism for students unable to return home to China because of travel restrictions to request leave outside the normal rules.”
I’m currently in China and can’t get back to the UK
Chinese students unable to get back to the UK “will not be treated as an unexpected absence” from classes. UKVI want to reassure students that they will not be penalised for any breaches to their visa caused by coronavirus travel restrictions.”