Balearic islands likely to move to England’s travel amber list | Coronavirus

Spain’s Balearic islands are likely to be moved from England’s travel green watchlist to amber, while ministers consider taking the drastic step of blocking most passengers coming from France given fears over rising cases of the Beta variant there.

The changes are being discussed on Wednesday afternoon but no final decisions have been made. An announcement will be made later on Wednesday that will come into force from early next week.

Multiple sources told the Guardian that those heading home from Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera will probably be subject to amber list rules meaning they must isolate at home for 10 days – though they can use the “test to release” system from day five to leave quarantine early.

However, changes coming into force from Monday 19 July means those who have had both Covid vaccines will not have to isolate, so long as they test negative upon their arrival back in England.

The isolation measure is thought to disproportionately affect young people, who have mostly only had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and must wait at least eight weeks to get a second.

Spain’s Balearic islands, a series of tourist destinations popular with partygoers and sunseekers, were three weeks ago placed on the green watchlist – which is designed to give people some indication the country is at risk of going back down to amber.

According to the Spanish government, case rates on the Balearics have more than tripled in the past two weeks – with the 14-day case rate ratio going from 113.71 to 357.82, as of Monday 12 July.

In a development that has caused deep division between Whitehall departments, the Guardian also understands ministers have been recommended to put France on the red list – from where travel for all but British nationals and residents is banned, and all those who do make the journey need to quarantine in a hotel for 10 nights at a cost of £1,700.

A source said that because of the relaxation of rules for amber list arrivals, “the red list now is the main buffer”.

France’s weekly case rate has risen by 63% and it reported 102 infections per million people in the last 24 hours – though that is well behind the UK’s latest figure of 537, according to Our World In Data.

Multiple other government insiders did not deny France was at risk of being moved down the traffic-light system, though last-minute decisions about which colour each country should be graded are made whenever the lists are updated, every three weeks.

Several other countries are also at risk of being added to the red list.

Meanwhile, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said that after lobbying by the British government, Malta had amended its travel advice to let anyone who has had an AstraZeneca jab into the country “without being turned away”. That came afterthe Daily Telegraph reported that Britons who have had two AstraZeneca vaccines including one manufactured in India were turned away from a flight from Manchester to Malta.

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