MUTANT Covid strains could be entering the UK from France as 68 per cent of travellers are exempt from quarantine.
Boris Johnson is reportedly facing growing pressure from his SAGE advisers to enforce tougher border controls on our European neighbours.
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The government is under pressure to impose tougher border controls as mutant Covid variants spread in FranceCredit: EPA
This comes as deadly South African and Brazilian variants, both of which are more resistant to vaccines, now account for 40 per cent of new cases in some areas of France, according to data shown to ministers.
Both Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, and his deputy Jonathan Van-Tam, are said to be “very concerned” because most people travelling from France do not have to quarantine, The Times reports.
Yesterday, Van-Tam told MPs that 68 per cent of French arrivals — mostly lorry drivers – do not have to self-islolate.
One MP said: “Anyone on that call would understand that he thinks the ‘red list’ needs expanding.
“France was the one that kept coming up but Germany was also mentioned because of increased numbers of variants.”
Cabinet ministers are in “advanced discussions” about plans to force hauliers to take lateral flow tests on their arrival in an attempt to control the spread of the mutant variants.
Yet, Number 10 sources played down the idea of France being added to the “red list” of countries saying such a move would be “disproportionate”.
This comes as holidays abroad for people in England are set to be banned until July with Brits facing £5,000 fines for trying to leave the country.
France is suffering a deadly third wave of Covid as its vaccine programme stuttersCredit: AP
Ministers are due to announce the ban on April 12 when the government’s travel task force delivers a report.
The PM told reporters yesterday that “we must be wary of the potential for a third wave” referring to the surge in cases on the European continent.
He said the UK needs to be prepared to take “necessary extra measures” adding that foreign holidays “certainly look difficult for the time being”.
However, the holiday ban does not cover people travelling for work including hauliers coming in and out of the UK.
Whitty said the government had failed to grasp the “massive importation” of Covid cases from our European neighbours last year – particularly France, Italy and Spain.
A health source told The Times: “There is a trade-off with not having our summer holidays but ensuring that the UK remains open — we can go to pubs, restaurants and life returns to something like normality. It’s similar to Australia.”
Professor Neil Ferguson, whose data led to the country’s first lockdown last year, said Brits should plan to have holidays in the UK.
Nearly 70 per cent of arrivals from France, mostly lorry drivers, are not required to quarantineCredit: PA