- Title: Foreignersâ€™ flight ban leaves British teacher in Poland separated from family
- Date: 14th March 2020
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) FATHER, HUSBAND AND 34-YEAR-OLD BRITISH PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER, TOM HOLMES, SAYING: "It's a very difficult situation at the moment and I'm trying to get back to see them so eventually we can try and get home here as a family together." HOLMES FLIPPING THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHS HOLMES LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) FATHER, HUSBAND AND 34-YEAR-OLD BRITISH PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER, TOM HOLMES, SAYING: "Clearly a really confusing situation, no one has been through it before, no one has a rule book of what to follow. But I think the frustrating thing is no one seems to have all the answers, no one... They are either unable or they're not confident enough to share what they know and everyone seems to be sharing different bits of information. It's really hard to know what's fact and what's opinion and what's concern and worry. People in the airport were really friendly but they didn't know what was going on, they couldn't tell me of definite whether if I flew to this country and they closed their borders what would happen." VARIOUS OF EXTERIOR OF WARSAW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT PLANE ON TARMAC (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) FATHER, HUSBAND AND 34-YEAR-OLD BRITISH PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER, TOM HOLMES, SAYING: "Perhaps think if people were given until the end of Sunday night we would have avoided a lot of the scenes that I saw at the airport today. Huge queues, lots of concerned people, lots of people who didn't know what to do." EXTERIOR OF WARSAW AIRPORT PEOPLE WITH LUGGAGE AIRPORT DOORS (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) FATHER, HUSBAND AND 34-YEAR-OLD BRITISH PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER, TOM HOLMES, SAYING: "My wife and children are in the UK at the moment but they normally live here with me in Warsaw and I'm trying to get back to see them so we can be together and ultimately try to get them back here to Poland to their home. My wife can't fly with two children under two, you are not allowed to do that." EXTERIOR OF WARSAW AIRPORT POLISH AIRLINES SIGN PASSENGERS WITH LUGGAGE POLISH (LEFT) AND EUROPEAN UNION (RIGHT) FLAGS PLANE ON TARMAC PLANE ON RUNWAY PLANE IN AIR PLANE IN AIR AS SUN SETS
- Keywords: British expat Poland border closure coronavirus suspension of flights
- Reuters ID: LVA003C50XTMV
- Location: WARSAW, POLAND
- City: WARSAW, POLAND
- Country: Poland
- Duration: 00:02:37
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Tom Holmes, a 34-year-old British primary school teacher living in Poland, had expected to welcome home his twin babies and wife in Warsaw on Monday (March 16) upon their return from a holiday in Britain.
Instead, on Saturday (March 14), he jumped on a bus to travel 570 km (355 miles) from Warsaw to Berlin, in hopes of catching a flight to London to meet up with his family, now stranded in Britain by coronavirus-related travel curbs.
Like many others across Europe, Holmes was caught unprepared as governments shut borders to contain the spread of the infection, forcing him to take drastic action.
Poland, which has reported 103 cases of coronavirus and three deaths, announced on Friday (March 13) it will ban foreigners from entering the country from Sunday (March 15) and impose a 14-day quarantine on its citizens returning home.
Those with a residence permit, like Holmes and his British wife, would also be allowed to enter, but no international inbound flights or trains would be allowed from 0000 CET on Sunday, except for some charter flights bringing Poles back from holidays.
That meant his wife could no longer fly to Poland alone with the twins, and his British mother-in-law would not be allowed in and would be unable to fly on Monday to accompany her daughter.
He may have a chance eventually, as the Polish government announced plans on Saturday to charter flights via the flag LOT carrier for those stranded abroad.
Flights will be scheduled initially from a handful of countries, including Britain, the United States and holiday destinations such as Cyprus. LOT will operate a sign-up procedure online.
(Production: Jaroslaw Gawlowski, Anna Dabrowska)
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