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Spain is unlikely to go on the ‘amber-plus’ travel list imminently

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Spain is unlikely to go on the ‘amber-plus’ travel list imminently despite having HIGHER rates of Beta variant Covid cases than France, ministers say

  • Spain is unlikely to be added to the ‘amber-plus’ list imminently 
  • It is despite data showing higher Beta variant rates there than in France
  • France became first amber list country to be excluded from rules on quarantine-free travel for double-jabbed Britons 

Spain is unlikely to be added to the ‘amber-plus’ list imminently – despite data showing higher Beta variant rates there than in France, ministers insisted last night.

Data compiled by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) suggests Beta rates in Spain have in recent weeks been more than five times higher than in France, which on Friday became the first amber list country to be excluded from new rules allowing quarantine-free travel for double-jabbed Britons.

For the week ending July 4, the latest seven-day period for which data is available, 20.2 per cent of positive cases analysed in Spain were found to be the Beta variant of Covid-19.

In France it was just 3.8 per cent for the same period.

The data prompted fears that Spain, Britain’s most popular holiday destination, could also be subject to the strict rules. Ministers ruled that out last night but left open the possibility that measures could still be imposed at short notice if rates of the variant, which first emerged in South Africa, continue to rise.

Spain is unlikely to be added to the ‘amber-plus’ list imminently – despite data showing higher Beta variant rates there than in France, ministers insisted last night. Pictured: People enjoy the sun and the warm weather at the Playa Segur de Calafell Beach in Calafell

Spain is unlikely to be added to the ‘amber-plus’ list imminently – despite data showing higher Beta variant rates there than in France, ministers insisted last night. Pictured: People enjoy the sun and the warm weather at the Playa Segur de Calafell Beach in Calafell 

For the week ending July 4, the latest seven-day period for which data is available, 20.2 per cent of positive cases analysed in Spain were found to be the Beta variant of Covid-19. In France it was just 3.8 per cent for the same period

For the week ending July 4, the latest seven-day period for which data is available, 20.2 per cent of positive cases analysed in Spain were found to be the Beta variant of Covid-19. In France it was just 3.8 per cent for the same period

The new regime kicked in at 4am on Monday and means double-jabbed travellers arriving from more than 140 amber countries no longer need to quarantine on arrival, effectively turning these destinations green for the fully vaccinated. But on Friday ministers unexpectedly announced this would not apply to France, plunging the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of Britons into chaos.

The rate of the Beta variant is also higher in Greece than in France, according to the ECDC. Greece recorded a rate of 13.4 per cent for the week ending July 4.

The following week (ending July 11), 9.7 per cent of positive cases analysed in Greece were Beta.

Scientists regard the Beta variant as the biggest threat to the UK’s vaccination programme even though it is less infectious than the Delta mutation.

Despite the figures, it is understood ministers have no plans to make either Spain or Greece join France on the ‘amber-plus’ list. Travel industry figures and scientists last night accused ministers of being ‘inconsistent’ and ‘changing the goalposts’.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, called on ministers to publish the full data they are basing their decisions on.

Holidaymakers seen taking a rest near their tent at a campsite in western France (file photo)

Holidaymakers seen taking a rest near their tent at a campsite in western France (file photo)

On Friday France became the first amber list country to be excluded from new rules allowing quarantine-free travel for double-jabbed Briton

On Friday France became the first amber list country to be excluded from new rules allowing quarantine-free travel for double-jabbed Briton

He told the Mail: ‘They are changing the goalposts. The message [to ministers] would be, provide clear and transparent data that you’re using when you’re making decisions. It’s not enough to just say “we’re looking at cases of infections, we’re looking at variants of concern, we’re looking at vaccination levels”. That’s all obvious. But you also need to tell us what are the numbers.

‘What are the number of cases you think is acceptable to live with?’ France being singled out has also raised eyebrows among scientists. Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, told the Mail: ‘There doesn’t appear to be any consistency. There seems to be a lot of knee-jerkism going on and it smacks of poor decision-making and not thinking things through.

‘What is it about France that’s so specific? There’s a complete lack of joined-up thinking and they haven’t provided the data.’

France’s European affairs minister, Clément Beaune, branded the move to create a new category for his country ‘excessive’ and said he did not believe it was ‘totally based on scientific foundations’.

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