'We could be losing billions': Minister challenged on quarantine for those jabbed abroad

19 July 2021, 12:03 | Updated: 19 July 2021, 18:51

By Asher McShane

Labour has called for the government to ensure foreign travellers who are vaccinated abroad don't have to quarantine for 10 days in a move that could potentially cost "billions of pounds worth" of lost business.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today stood by the policy that means businessmen and women who are vaccinated abroad will have to quarantine after No10 changed the rules on arrivals from amber list countries.

Labour demanded answers on the issue, with the shadow health secretary telling LBC yesterday he raised it months ago and the government hadn't tackled the problem, adding that it was an issue in the system "that needs to be resolved."

Appearing on Call the Cabinet on LBC, Kwasi Kwarteng was asked: "Why is the UK government forcing people who are double jabbed abroad to quarantine for 10 days when they come to the UK? Other countries accept the NHS vaccination, why don't we accept ones from other countries?"

Mr Kwarteng replied: "We've got to be very cautious. We're very protective of communities here.

"We want to be extra safe so that people can be protected here.

Nick replies: "These could be businessmen and women coming in?"

Mr Kwarteng said: "They could be. But everyone, as you say, has to follow the rules."

"But we could be losing billions of pounds worth of business," Nick said.

"I think there are some exemptions that you are aware of in the case of people investing huge amounts to create jobs" said Mr Kwarteng.

"I think the threshold is something like 500 jobs, and I was very pleased going to Sunderland and we announced a billion pounds from Nissan."

Jonathan Ashworth told Tom Swarbrick on Swarbrick on Sunday yesterday it appeared the issue was an anomaly in “the system.”

He said: “This is exactly one of the points I raised three or four months ago. That needs to be resolved in our system. He said he didn’t know why the situation hadn’t yet been resolved and said: “It’s curious isn’t it.”

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“I think it’s one of those things that the system didn’t think of.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has previously said the government will announce changes to quarantine plans for those who have been fully vaccinated abroad in the coming weeks.

Mr Kwarteng's comments come after it emerged that the UK does not recognise identical jabs administered by other countries as part of its travel 'traffic light system.'

The rule which allows vaccinated people returning to Britain from most amber list countries without quarantine from Monday has changed and now only applies to those who have received their jabs “under the UK vaccination programme”.

For example, double-jabbed travellers arriving from countries such as the USA or Israel will still have to quarantine even though they have received vaccinations approved and in use by the NHS.

There has been no official comment from No10 yet as to why the UK does not recognise identical jabs administered by other countries.

Fully vaccinated adults returning from France to the UK from today will still have to quarantine after a U-turn by the British government on Friday evening.

Adults coming back from amber list countries will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days under the changes to the amber list system, but France is excluded from that relaxation even though it is still on the amber list.