Grant Shapps has defended France’s position on the UK’s ‘amber plus’ travel list, saying the decision was made due to cases of the Beta variant of coronavirus in the north of the country.
Earlier this week Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the move was made because of the “prevalence of the so-called Beta variant, in particular in the Reunion bit of France”
Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, is 6,000 miles from Paris.
But this morning the Transport Secretary said the variant is also “an issue” in northern areas of France. He said:
“The Beta variant is not just on an island thousands of miles away, it is also an issue in particular in northern France. So it has been an overall concern. The big concern is that we don’t allow a variant into Britain which somehow is able to escape the vaccine programme that we have got.
We don’t want to have got this far with vaccinations, with just getting towards 90% of all adults having been vaccinated, and then throw it all away because a variant that the vaccine perhaps couldn’t handle came in. Now all the evidence on all of that has been pulled together – the latest research on how the vaccine works with the Beta variant, the scale of the Beta variant and France and the rest of it – and then these decisions will, of course, be constantly reviewed which is exactly what will happen.”
Mr Shapps added that he is “looking forward to the whole world being more accessible”.
Currently, only people who received their two vaccine doses in the UK can avoid quarantine when arriving from amber list countries. The government insisted the rule change would help to reunite families and friends whose loved ones live abroad… but this rule does not apply to those coming from France.