The British in Europe (BiE) campaign group has written to the UK government saying there it sees no 'medical or legal' reason for excluding Britons living abroad from the chance to enter the UK without having to quarantine.
The group has demanded an explanation after the UK confirmed that returning fully-vaccinated British residents will, from Monday July 19, be able to enter England from amber countries such as France without the obligation to quarantine and will require only one Covid test after arrival as opposed to two.
Official announcements from the UK government have given no indication that Britons who have been vaccinated abroad are included in the policy. Department for Transport sources have today confirmed to The Connexion that is not the case. However, BiE asked for confirmation of this, saying that there has been “confusing” communication around the policy.
The group cited as an example the British Embassy in Luxembourg as having stated in an update that “British fully vaccinated adults travelling to the UK from amber list countries will not need to isolate”.
BiE adds that, if Britons abroad are excluded, the policy is illogical as many people in the UK have had doses manufactured in the EU. “The vaccinations are the same, the medical and public health impacts are the same, yet the quarantine policy is not.”
It states that in this case Britons abroad are being discriminated against compared to UK residents and it asks the government if it agrees that “this policy will make it extremely difficult for UK citizens resident in EEA amber list countries to travel back to see family, in many cases after a period of absence of well over a year”.
At present the issue relates to entering England, as the other countries of the UK are still working out their policies.
Christopher Chantrey, the vice-chairman of BiE member group British Community Committee of France, said: “This is not justified. The UK often forgets the existence of Brits abroad and this seems to be another example of that. It’s extraordinary because 9% of the British population lives outside the country of origin, a very high rate. Yet the UK – perhaps because it’s an island – can’t seem to get its head around it.”
Britons abroad are especially affected by the issue because of their need to visit families, he said.
It comes as a petition to the UK government to allow vaccinated Britons abroad to return without quarantine has now reached 37,448, an increase of 11,000 in the last three days.
Launched in May by a Briton living in Dubai, the petition also calls attention to the particular impact on Britons abroad of the UK’s tough entry policies, saying: “Many of us have not seen family since before the pandemic and are being prevented from doing so by quarantine restrictions.”
A Department for Transport source said the government was taking a ‘phased approach’, starting with those who were vaccinated in the UK, as the procedures are all in place to recognise their NHS certificates and NHS phone app proof.
In a statement, the UK government said it is ‘exploring plans to remove quarantine for vaccinated non-UK residents arriving from amber countries later this summer where it is safe to do so’.
The UK’s transport minister, Grant Shapps, stated last week that the EU and US were among the areas under consideration for this.
The Department for Transport did not respond to The Connexion on whether the situation of Britons abroad had been considered specifically. A source confirmed the wish to “open this [policy] up more broadly in due course”, including to non-UK residents.
The UK’s quarantine requirement for arrivals from amber list countries is for 10 days unless paying for an additional day five test for the possibility of an earlier release.
The exception is where people are staying for fewer days than this, in which case the quarantine requirement is for the duration of the stay. In this case however, they still have to book both day two and day eight tests, even if the latter will not be used.