Dominic Raab grilled on vaccine passports in France
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Arrivals from France are subjected to a mandatory 10-day quarantine when landing in England. The so-called “amber plus” list has been exclusively reserved for France while dozens of other countries have seen the rules relaxed. Clement Beaune, France’s hardline Europe minister, accused the Government of ignoring the science and discriminating against his country.
He fumed: “It is a decision which is not scientifically founded and which is discriminatory.
“All Europeans, even countries which have more difficult health situations than ours due to the Delta variant no longer have to quarantine.”
Paris’ frustrations exploded after No10 announced that all fully vaccinated travellers from the other 26 EU nations, as well as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, and the US will be exempt from quarantine on Monday.
France remains the exception, with the Government blaming the spread of the Beta variant for the decision.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab sparked confusion yesterday when he claimed the rules were in place based on data from France’s overseas territory of Reunion island, in the Indian Ocean, some 6,000 miles away.
Scientists are concerned that the variant, which originated in South Africa, is more resistant to vaccines than other mutant versions of COVID-19.
Mr Raab told the BBC: “The evidence presented on which the original decision was taken was based on the prevalence of the so-called Beta variant, in particular on the Réunion bit of France.”
When it was pointed out that Reunion was a long way from mainland France, he added: “It’s not the distance that matters, it’s the case of travel between different component parts of every individual country.”
In a separate interview, the Foreign Secretary confirmed the decision was also related to the variant’s prevalence in northern France.
The travel industry moved to ridicule Mr Raab’s comments.
Brittany Ferries said: “This is madness. It would be like France hammering British holidaymakers due to a Covid outbreak on the Falkland Islands.”
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French scientists say that the Beta variant accounts for fewer than three percent of cases in mainland France.
This is down from seven percent two months ago, according to government data.
British ministers are hopeful that France will be taken off of the “amber plus” list when the measures are reviewed next week.
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Recent reports have suggested the Spain could be added to the list because of the spread of the Beta variant.
Beta accounts for 14.2 percent of cases in Spain over the past four weeks, according to Gisaid, an online COVID-19 information platform.
In the same timeframe, just 1.9 percent of cases in France were down to the variant.
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