It is necessary to have “painful” travel restrictions and a cautious approach, the transport secretary said this morning, hinting at a move back to amber for France at next week’s traffic light reshuffle.
France was hastily slung into a bespoke “amber plus” category on 16 July, two days after the last review of the green, amber and red lists for travel, mandating 10 days of quarantine for arrivals regardless of vaccination status. The decision was driven by a worry over rising cases of the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa.
It’s a move that France labelled as discriminatory and excessive, given that the bulk of France’s Beta variant cases come from the island of La Reunion, nearly 6,000 miles away from the mainland in the Indian Ocean.
This week, the government confirmed plans to allow fully jabbed visitors from the EU and the US to swerve quarantine from 2 August.
Speaking to Sky News this morning, Grant Shapps said the government had to be cautious to ensure travel did not allow variants that could evade vaccination to spread.
“I know it’s painful, but I think that generally speaking, your viewers probably want to see us be cautious rather than sort of gung-ho on this and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the whole world being more accessible. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Mr Shapps hinted that France could move back to amber in next week’s review, due to take place on either Wednesday or Thursday.
He told the BBC: “We are on the cautious side of that, I recognise that, but I hope that over time we will be able to regularise the position with France, but we will have to be a bit patient. Next week will be the first opportunity to look at that.”
Additional reporting by agencies