Merkel's call for Brit travellers to quarantine in EU is 'unjustified' - minister

24 June 2021, 09:34 | Updated: 24 June 2021, 10:10

By Will Taylor

Angela Merkel's call for EU nations to quarantine British travellers when they arrive is "unjustified", a minister has told LBC.

The German chancellor said on Wednesday that she would like to see countries follow her example in imposing the requirements, amid worries about the Delta variant.

Different nations in the EU can decide whether to force Brits into isolation when they arrive. Travel between the UK and the EU is already limited due to Covid rules.

Environment secretary George Eustice told Nick Ferrari: "Each country is taking their own decisions on this and so it will be for them to judge what approach they want to take.

"I'm not sure that such an approach would be justified given the highly advanced stage we are currently at now in terms of vaccination, with 80% having had one jab and now 60% having had the second jab.

Read more: Summer holiday hope for Balearic Islands and Malta as 'green list' gets latest update

Read more: 'Now or never for summer travel': Tourism industry demands help for 'decimated' sector

"So I don't think such a move would be justified but obviously it's for individual countries to make these judgments."

Elmar Brok, a former member of the European Parliament for Germany, said if the UK had been part of the EU there would have been "better coordination" and it might not have been facing a bloc-wide quarantine.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari - separately from Mr Eustice - Mr Brok was asked why Portugal and Cyprus were not being treated differently when their weekly increases of Covid are worse than the UK's.

"Because the authorities have done a lot in Lisbon, they have closed Lisbon for a few days and that is the situation," Mr Brok said.

Read more: 'Difficult year for travel' warns PM, but exemptions for double-jabbed not ruled out

"We have free movement in the European Union, you have decided not to have free movement with the European Union, and that is the difference.

"You are not a member of the European Union anymore."

Asked if Ms Merkel would still call for quarantine had the UK still been an EU member, Mr Brok said it was "not acceptable" to say the UK is always being excluded by the bloc.

"You chose to go out, that is not punishment for Britain, but we are afraid that your variation comes to Germany, that's the only point," he said.

If Ms Merkel's comments were followed up by EU leaders it would be another blow to a travel industry that was described as having been "decimated" yesterday.

Bosses in the sector called for a "day of action" to demand the Government either eases restrictions for the industry or provides extended financial help.

Travel from the UK is limited both by restrictions other countries put on British travellers and the Government's own quarantine rules.

It is due to consider any updates to the traffic light system, which ranks countries green, amber or red based on Covid data, today.

Green list countries are limited to a handful of places which also have their own requirements for entry, limiting the number of viable holiday destinations.

The travel industry had hoped with the UK's successful vaccine rollout that more people would be allowed to holiday without quarantining.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said such plans are under consideration.