British people travelling abroad have been told to return to the UK now if commercial flights are still available.

Foreign Office advice issued ahead of the UK being forced into lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis, said: “International travel is becoming very limited as air routes close, land borders close and new restrictions are put in place that prevent flights from leaving.

“If you’re travelling abroad, you should:

• contact your airline or travel company now

• keep up-to-date with our travel advice pages. We are updating information on returning from the country you’re in as quickly as we can.”

The FCO added: “We are working with airlines to keep routes open, and calling for international action to keep routes open to enable British people can return home on commercial flights.

“We are also working around the clock to support those British travellers who are already finding difficulties to come back to the UK.”

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab tweeted on Monday evening: “My message to British people travelling abroad: As borders around the world close and international travel becomes more difficult, you are strongly advised to return to the UK now, where & while there are still commercial travel options available. Keep up to date with @FCOtravel.”

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “While it’s right British travellers are being urged to return to the UK, the reality is that there are now thousands of UK residents stranded in dozens of different destinations with no means to get back.

“The government must improve its communication and provide British citizens fearful of being stranded abroad with useful advice.

“Where scheduled services have been withdrawn, it should leave no stone unturned to get these people on flights home.”