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UK nationals abroad: Covid-19 Quarantine

UK nationals abroad: Covid-19 Quarantine

Following Grant Shapps' statement to Parliament regarding the removal of the quarantine requirements for UK-vaccinated residents, and the subsequent confirmation by No 10 that this would not include UK nationals vaccinated abroad, we have written asking for clarification.

"Dear Minister

We refer to your statement in Parliament on 8 July regarding the removal of the requirement for UK residents fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout returning from an amber country to quarantine. It appears, although this remains to be clarified, that UK citizens fully vaccinated abroad and living in amber countries are not included in this change of policy.

We would like to know the epidemiological and legal bases for this decision as we can see no medical or legal reason for it based on the publicly available evidence of the protection against Covid-19 offered by the vaccinations authorised by the EMA and MHRA.

Any UK resident who has been vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines has received a dose made in the exact same production facilities as a UK citizen living in an EU amber country. And a great many recipients of the Astra Zeneca vaccine in the UK have received doses manufactured in the same plants in the EU which supplied our doses. The vaccinations are the same, the medical and public health impacts are the same, yet the quarantine policy is not.

This policy is epidemiologically illiterate (most of the amber list countries have a 7-day case rate lower than that of the UK) and the communications around the policy are confused and misleading. As I write (accessed at 08.07.2021 at 1459) the UK embassy in Luxembourg states:

“TRAVEL UPDATE: From MONDAY 19 JULY 4am British fully vaccinated adults travelling to the UK from amber list countries will not need to isolate including those on clinical trials – another step to fully reopening international travel. Children under 18 will not need to self-isolate.
Luxembourg is on the UK amber list.”

Yet journalists are being told by Number 10 that this is incorrect and the new rules do not apply to British citizens living in amber countries.

Meanwhile, the BBC reported on 7 July that Heathrow is running a trial on fast-tracking vaccinated passengers.

It does not appear that there is any joined up thinking between any of these policies or the communications behind them. This is not reassuring in a pandemic with massively increasing daily rates of Covid-19 in the UK and elsewhere.

It would appear that yet again British citizens abroad are at best an afterthought, not considered at all, or at worst now caught up in the endless disagreements between the UK government and the EU. We very much hope that this new policy is not the UK response to the recent decision by the EU to not allow UK residents vaccinated with AZ manufactured in India into the EU Covid passport programme, and would appreciate a written confirmation that this is not behind this decision.

Accordingly, we would like urgent clarification on the following:

  • What is the correct interpretation of this policy and who is responsible for conveying that message to UK citizens vaccinated overseas?
  • If the interpretation is that fully vaccinated British citizens living in amber countries are not covered by the new policy, what are the legal and epidemiological bases for this and why are British citizens vaccinated with the same vaccines as residents of the UK being discriminated against?
  • What steps are you taking to monitor the impact of this policy on public health in the UK and to review it on a regular basis?
  • Do you agree that this policy will make it extremely difficult for UK citizens resident in EEA amber list countries to travel back to the UK to see family, in many cases after a period of absence of well over over a year, as we face yet another serious wave of Covid-19, and that the policy should be revised urgently to apply to UK citizens vaccinated abroad?

Yours sincerely,
British in Europe"

8 July 2021

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