Minister defends France's amber plus status amid row over travel curbs

30 July 2021, 08:27 | Updated: 30 July 2021, 17:12

Nick Ferrari grills Transport Secretary over travel rules for France

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Transport Secretary has defended the amber plus travel restrictions for France amid a growing row over the decision, as concern grows for other destinations.

Mr Shapps said the decision to keep France on the amber plus list was made due to cases of the Beta coronavirus variant in the north of the country.

Amid a diplomatic backlash from France over “excessive” quarantine restrictions Nick Ferrari grilled Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on LBC on Friday.

"Travel rules descend into French farce, you're the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, what are you going to do about it?"

Read more: Boris Johnson under pressure to allow double jabbed to escape isolation sooner

Mr Shapps said the government was being "on the cautious side" of changing international travel as he warned of the dangers of different Covid variants.

He told LBC there was "particular" concern in France with reference to the Beta Covid variant.

Earlier this week, Mr Shapps confirmed England would allow fully vaccinated visitors from both the EU and the United States to arrive without needing to quarantine from August 2.

But he added that tougher rules will continue to be in place for France, which, although on the amber list, still requires travellers to quarantine on their return regardless of their vaccine status.

Mr Shapps said this advice would be reviewed at "the end of next week" as part of an ongoing assessment of travel rules.

Yesterday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the decision to put France on the amber-plus list had been taken in part because of the high rate of the Beta variant in Réunion, a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean.

Read more: Beijing threatens to 'expel' British Royal Navy ships from South China Sea

But Mr Shapps denied this was the sole reason, he said when the decision was made the data showed "cases actually in France."

"We've seen very, very low levels of Beta here," Mr Shapps said as he revealed there was "scientific concern" over "vaccine escape."

"It's safety first."

France was put on England’s amber plus list two weeks ago, after the government took advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).

Read more: Rule changes to end pingdemic ‘nailed on’ for August 16, PM tells LBC

France could be taken off amber-plus list next week

At the time, the reason given by the Department of Health and Social Care was the “persistent presence of cases in France of the Beta variant.”

It comes after a French minister described the UK government's decision to keep quarantine measures for travellers coming from France while removing them for all other European countries as "discriminatory" and "excessive".

France hit out at England’s decision to make it the only EU country excluded from new rules allowing fully vaccinated travellers jabbed on the continent or in the US to avoid quarantine if coming from an amber list country.

The Europe minister, Clément Beaune, said it was “excessive”, telling France’s LCI TV: “It’s frankly incomprehensible on health grounds. It’s not based on science and discriminatory towards the French. I hope it will be reviewed as soon as possible; it’s just common sense.”

The Transport Secretary said there would be a review of the travel rules in one week.

More Nick Ferrari

See more More Nick Ferrari

This is the moment Nick Ferrari puts a government minister on the spot over the government's new plans to ban smoking.

'When will the Conservatives be banning alcohol?' Nick Ferrari puts minister on the spot after smoking ban vote passes

'I'm ashamed to say Nick, I started smoking when I was 12' Tory MP reveals

Minister who reveals she started smoking at 12 says she's not interested in freedom argument against ban

This guest told LBC he was against Rishi Sunak's smoking ban because 'everybody dies in the end' and the NHS should 'price in' the cost of dealing with sick Brits.

'The NHS is there to make you healthy' guest dismisses smoking ban as 'everybody dies in the end'

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Lord Kim Darroch the former UK National Security Advisor for his assessment of the performance of "the current PM, the man who was PM and the man who wants to be PM"

Rishi Sunak has 'left the pitch free' for Lord Cameron to be Foreign Sec and 'toughen the line on Israel', says former diplomat

David Cameron tells LBC using RAF jets to shoot down Russian drones over Ukraine would lead to a 'dangerous escalation' in the conflict.

Nick Ferrari puts David Cameron on the spot: 'Why can't the RAF shoot down drones over Ukraine like they do Israel?'

Lord Cameron has described Iran’s strike on Israel as a “double defeat”

Lord Cameron urges Israel to ‘take the win,' don't retaliate and focus on defeating Hamas after Iran’s ‘double defeat’

Rishi Sunak has pledged a crackdown on shoplifting

'We’ve got your back': Rishi Sunak’s message to retail staff as he pledges crackdown on dangerous shoplifters

'None of our closest allies have stopped': Rishi Sunak defends decision not to suspend arms sales to Israel

'None of our closest allies have stopped': Rishi Sunak defends decision not to suspend arms sales to Israel

Braverman: Iran is 'funding and supporting proxies to carry out attacks in the UK'

Suella Braverman warns Iranian regime 'funding and supporting' 'targeted attacks' on UK streets

The mural on the wall of the Golden Chippy

A Greenwich fish and chip shop that's causing a stink over painting, as owner tells LBC he's 'determined to keep mural up'

Rishi Sunak’s job is under threat from a plot of backbench Tory MPs who want to replace him with Penny Mordaunt before the general election.

Tories 'need to stop messing around and get behind the Prime Minister,' Business Secretary tells LBC

'This is trivia': Kemi Badenoch hits out at continued furore over Tory donor 'racism' row

'This is trivia': Kemi Badenoch hits out at continued furore over Tory donor 'racism' row

Government suspends tariffs on key imports to boost SMEs launching £660 million northern powerhouse fund

Government suspends tariffs on key imports to boost SMEs launching £660 million northern powerhouse fund

'Floating voters' unconvinced by Jeremy Hunt's Budget

LBC's 'Floating Voters' left unconvinced by Jeremy Hunt's Budget

Leila Khaled, who hijacked planes, will appear via video link at a fundraiser hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Andy Street wants police to look at the event

'I'm not comfortable with it': West Mids Mayor to speak to police amid fury over Palestinian hijacker’s fundraiser

Andy Street taking calls from the public on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast

Tory MP's claim that Birmingham has 'no-go areas' was 'ridiculous', West Midlands Mayor tells LBC