Boris Johnson Warns France May Go On Travel “Red List” To Prevent Covid Variants Arriving Across The Channel
Boris Johnson has admitted that putting France on the "red list" for travel was "something that we will have to look at" to prevent importing new Covid variants.
The Prime Minister warned such a move “would have consequences” as he pointed out how much the UK relies on cross-Channel movement for items like food and medicines.
Appearing in front of the liaison committee he said the government is looking at placing further restrictions on travel to and from France, which has seen a recent upsurge in coronavirus cases, due to concerns about the effectiveness of current vaccines against new variants from South Africa and Brazil.
But home affairs committee chair Yvette Cooper said France had already reported more than 2,000 such cases, and questioned why it was not already on the "red list" of countries from which travel is effectively banned.
Johnson said: ”There is an issue about whether we decide to apply more stringent measures to them, with the delays that that would entail and the knock-on effects that would entail.
"We are certainly looking at that but people should be under no illusions that it would have consequences.”
He said putting France on the "red list”, which means those who arrive must quarantine for 10 days in an approved hotel, was "something that we will have to look at".
The PM added: ”We will take a decision, no matter how tough, to interrupt that trade, to interrupt those flows, if we think that it is necessary to protect public health and to stop new variants coming in.
"It may be that we have to do that very soon.”
But Cooper accused him of making the same mistakes on Britain’s border policy as took place last year, when she said not enough to prevent the import of the virus.
She said "everyone understands that hauliers clearly can't be covered by quarantine and carry on doing their vital job”, but asked: "Why are you not testing them?"
Johnson replied: "Tougher measures would have very serious disruption on those trade flows and that has to be balanced against the current ambiguity about the effectiveness of the vaccines on the variants.”
He added: "If it's necessary to bring in testing then we will do so, but I think you should understand the balance of doing that, the disruption to trade, and the risk that we are trying to address.”