Restrictions on travel from France will likely be dropped next week as the government’s traffic light system is reviewed, reports say.
It is believed that the country will be taken off the ‘amber-plus’ list as government officials seemed to admit the Beta variant threat was contained.
Sources claim the Delta variant prevalent in Britain is spreading faster than the Beta variant in Europe, and would ‘out-compete’ it in the coming weeks, The Times reports.
And despite a rise in case rates, it remains unlikely that Greece and Spain will be put on the amber-plus list.
A decision will be made on August 5 and if Spain stays on the amber list it will mean holidaymakers will not have to quarantine on return.
At present double-jabbed holidaymakers returning from France must quarantine for up to ten days because it is on the amber-plus list. But fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK from amber-list countries can sidestep quarantine.
A decision will be made on August 5 and if Spain stays on the amber list it will mean holidaymakers will not have to quarantine on return (pictured: Calafell, Spain)
Restrictions on travel from France will likely be dropped next week as the government’s traffic light system is reviewed, reports say (pictured: Paris, July 24)
There have been a total of 46,563,452 first doses of a vaccine administered and 37,160,659 second doses. Last Sunday 60 new deaths within 28 days of testing positive were recorded, meaning today’s figure of 28 is a drop of more than 50 per cent
There are growing concerns about the increasing number of cases in Spain involving the more vaccine-resistant Beta, or South African, variant.
Some 3.7 per cent of cases in France in the past four weeks have been due to the Beta variant, compared with 6.9 per cent in Spain.
Some experts questioned whether UK officials could have confused the prevalence of Beta in mainland France and in its overseas territories, which include the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, and Reunion in the Indian Ocean. An estimated 90 per cent of cases in Reunion are Beta at present.
WHAT IS THE ‘AMBER PLUS’ LIST’?
Fully vaccinated Britons returning from amber list countries are exempt from the 10-day home quarantine requirement.
However, from July 19, travellers returning from France are not exempt and must self-isolate for 10 days and take two tests, regardless of whether they’ve been fully vaccinated or not.
This new category, between amber and red, has not officially been named but is being referred to as ‘Amber-plus’.
Ministers made the hasty decision over fears of the rise in South African – or Beta – variant infections in France.
Returning from Amber List countries
All travellers must take a pre-departure test three days before their return to the UK.
Unvaccinated passengers returning from amber list countries will need to self isolate for 10 days and take a day two and day eight Covid test – with most packages costing around £150.
An optional extra day five test can be taken, with a negative result allowing unvaccinated travellers to be released early from quarantine – costing around £99.
Vaccinated travellers are not required to quarantine on return from amber list countries but will still be required to take a PCR test on day two of their return – costing roughly £99.
Returning from Amber-Plus List countries
Both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers returning from France must self-isolate for 10 days and take two tests on day two and day eight.
An optional extra day five PCR test can be taken, with a negative result allowing travellers to be released early from the 10-day quarantine.
A Whitehall source said: ‘There is growing confidence that France can soon go back on the amber list. [But] there remains some concern about the prevalence of the Beta variant in Spain, although we do not yet have the latest data and… no decision has yet been taken.’
Labour said the holiday plans of nearly six million Britons could be ruined if Spain and Greece were added to the amber-plus list.
The list effectively strips back Freedom Day rules, which allow holidaymakers to return from amber list countries without having to face a mandatory period of self-isolation.
But, just days before the new rules were to be announced, the Government through tens of thousands of holidays into doubt by revealing that double-jabbed Britons returning from France would still have to quarantine.
Now Greece and Spain, both of which are currently on the amber list, could now follow France onto the so-called amber plus list.
But, according to figures released by Labour, that could leave an estimated 5,857,558 people facing the prospect of last-minute quarantine requirements – plunging the holidays into ‘chaos once more’.
The Government introduced an exemption for the requirement to isolate at home for 10 days for fully-vaccinated holidaymakers returning from countries on the amber list.
But ministers removed the exemption for France amid concerns over the Beta variant, creating what critics call an ‘amber plus’ designation on the traffic light system for foreign travel.
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: ‘Not only have they failed to protect our borders, allowing Covid cases to rocket – they also refuse to be straight with the public and give them the information they need to book travel with confidence, with clear information on the direction of travel of infections in each country.
‘Families who have booked holidays in good faith now risk losing out – 10-day quarantine is simply not an option for many people who are already struggling financially thanks to the pandemic.’
The opposition estimated the number of people to have booked holidays to those three nations by looking at official data for past travel and adjusting for lower willingness to travel during the pandemic by comparing with surveys.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘The travel list allocations have not changed for Spain or Greece.
‘We are closely monitoring the data and will take swift action on travel list allocations and international travel requirements should the data show that countries’ risk to England has changed.’
A decision will be made on August 5 and if Spain stays on the amber list it will mean holidaymakers will not have to quarantine on return
There are growing concerns about the increasing number of cases in Spain involving the more vaccine-resistant Beta, or South African, variant
It comes as holidaymakers faced up to three hour queues to through passport control at Heathrow Airport yesterday after e-gates broke down and the pingdemic left just one official at the desks, according to frustrated passengers.
Summer school worker claimed 12 of the children in his care were told they couldn’t check in to their flight home to Spain at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 despite having certificates of recovery from Covid-19.
The Terminal 2 delays meant some passengers arriving from ‘amber list’ countries missed their pre-booked taxi or coaches on the airport’s busiest weekend of the year.
To make matters worse, London Underground trains from Heathrow terminals are closed over the weekend due to engineering works, meaning already delayed holidaymakers have to take a replacement bus service to Hammersmith.
Ryan Toal, the summer school lead, tweeted: ‘BA have finally let our students check in after 2 hours – your staff clearly don’t know their own guidelines and the fact your manager treated our students as threats demanding they left the building and customers away from them is appalling.’