Every evening, Britons seat themselves in front of the TV for the daily Prime Minister briefing on the next stage of the Coronavirus prevention plan. In the last week, restrictions have become tighter as the number of positive cases and deaths rise.
Whilst many families can watch the broadcasts from the comfort of their own living room there are thousands of British nationals stranded or isolated across the globe.
The UK currently has no official restrictions on flights entering and leaving the country, however many airlines have canceled the majority of their flights.
Many campaigners have called for the UK border to be sealed, following in the footsteps of European countries who have significantly restricted movement entering and leaving the continent. This is in a bid to reduce the amount of non-domestic COVID-19 cases being brought into their countries.
However, thousands of British citizens are stranded abroad or left in the dark about their ability to get back home. I spoke to Nicole, a 22-year-old who is stranded with other British nationals in Cambodia.
I also spoke to Amy, who’s relaxing holiday on a caravan site in Benidorm which has become a venue of fear and uncertainty as the Spanish government clamps down on COVID-19.
Nicole and her best friend Eve spent the last few years planning a six month trip across many of the coveted Asian islands; from Thailand, Bali, Cambodia and then on to Australia. The trip cost thousands of pounds and has involved years of planning. Travel started in early February when many countries were largely unaffected by COVID-19.
Nicole has used her Instagram platform to blog about her experiences traveling the Asian countries and the positive impact it has had upon her mental health.
View this post on Instagram
Our first month of laughter, our first month of fun ! Going to keep this short as otherwise @evemaderson will probably bottle me for the cringiness but good friends can often be under-appreciated, so here we are. In all honesty, I don’t have a clue what I did to deserve a friend as caring, funny, non-judgemental, and downright crazy as you. I will never be able to thank you enough for believing in me like you did. No matter how hard things got or how much my mental illnesses would try tear me down, you never stopped believing in me and believing that I would be okay again – even when I had no belief in myself. You have been my biggest supporter through my recovery and I don’t think you realise even now how much our friendship helped me get back on track and most importantly to be as well as I am now. It feels like a lifetime since you sat there with me for days whilst I was in hospital but look at us now, 10 months on and we’re living our gap year dreams. To sum up us… “We’ll be friends forever because you already know too much.” Jokes aside, thank you for always being the best friend there is. 💛
However, the travels abruptly took a turn for the worst, when Nicole and many British nationals found themselves stranded in Cambodia.
With government authorities immediately preventing any flights via Singapore or Hong Kong, Nicole and her friends are stuck in the country – with no support from the British Embassy.
Anyone stranded in Cambodia feel free to message me or @evegmadrsn we are making a list of names to make our case stronger for a repatriate flight. We also think it will be good if we can share knowledge we find on what to do with each other ASAP !! #Cambodia #COVID19
— nicole foster (@_nicfstr) March 24, 2020
Nicole and her friend turned to various social media platforms in a bid to find others who are also in the same situation. Thus far, Nicole has been in contact with multiple Britons who are also stranded in Cambodia.
When the British Embassy was contacted, Nicole received a simple letter highlighting travel restrictions, with no information regarding rescue flights.
When I contacted Nicole regarding her current situation, she said she has found one last potential way to get a flight home but things are looking uncertain as the government has prevented non-essential travel through Singapore and Hong Kong.
Nicole was unable to be interviewed but outlined the current difficulties that she and many others are facing in Cambodia at the moment.
As different governments and countries aim to tackle the outbreak of Coronavirus, many peopleare left stranded and alienated with, they say, very little support from British authorities.
Amy and her husband regularly stay at their caravan at a well-regarded camping site in sunny Benidorm. Throughout the spring and summer months the campsite is often teeming with tourists from Britain and Spain, hoping to soak up the sun and enjoy the relaxation and entertainment of Benidorm town.
When Amy and her husband, Patrick, travelled to the campsite several weeks ago, COVID-19 cases in Spain were very low and there were no official travel warnings from either the British or Spanish governments.
Coronavirus in Spain (as of Tuesday 24th March 2020)
Confirmed Cases: 39,673
Recovered Cases: 3,794
Death Toll: 2,696
Travel restrictions: All borders closed for entry as of 23/03/2020. Restrictions on non-essential domestic travel
However, the situation has rapidly changed, and as Spain becomes part of the Coronavirus epicentre in Europe, airlines are cancelling the majority of their flights. Originally set to fly back to Manchester on April 9th, Amy has now had to book onto the only remaining flight back to London on March 31st – however the status of this flight is dependant on any more travel restrictions set in place before then.
If unable to fly back to England, Amy and her husband are at risk of being sent away from their caravan site and into emergency accommodation in Spain.
Amy has received most of her support and guidance through Facebook pages, such as Benidorm Seriously and Benidorm Business Association, which have provided updates in regards to rescue flights, creating a Spanish bank account and emergency accommodation.
British Airways have flights for anyone trying to get home!!
Alicante airport is open. It is not known if in the future this will continue. You are advised to book a flight as soon…
The campsite where Amy stays is also likely to close down in the coming days, meaning that many may have to be moved to temporary accommodation, which can be anything from a long term stay in non-holiday apartments or emergency shelter.
As of 24/03/2020, Amy and many other British nationals in Spain remain hopeful that they will be able to come back home. However, the situation is changing on a daily basis.