A plan to scrap quarantines for fully vaccinated British citizens arriving from amber countries has become a subject of concern for a collective of Brits in Europe, who fear the current rule doesn't include them.
In a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, the British in Europe group explains that "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."
Speaking in Parliament on 8 July, Shapps announced that from 19 July, "UK residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England."
While an undoubted boost for the English looking to travel abroad, Shapps made no mention of UK citizens who live - and have been vaccinated - abroad.
"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," British in Europe explained in its letter.
"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," it adds.
This argument is strengthened by the fact that many of the vaccines administered in the UK were made in the same factories as the ones being used in other countries.
We just want to see our families. We don't even want to go on holiday but many of us haven't seen our relatives for 18-24 mths which feels like a lifetime in a pandemic. We are double vaccinated and coming from countries with fewer cases so why are we excluded? https://t.co/9djaHJ90QF— British in Europe (@BritishInEurope) July 8, 2021
"The vaccinations are the same, the medical and public health impacts are the same, yet the quarantine policy is not," the group explained.
The timeframe of any changes to the rules - which has been met with condemnation from Brits abroad and their families - remains unclear at this time, prompting the group to seek further information with a series of questions.
Europe is Phase 2
Speaking to Sky News after the announcement, Shapps said that ministers are "actively working" on proposals to extend the new measures to those vaccinated outside of the UK "as soon as we can" as part of phase 2 of the plan.
Asked to explain the decision, Shapps said that "part of the issue, of course, is elsewhere the level of fully vaccinated people tends not to be at the levels that we've got in the UK because we got on with our vaccination programme so much faster, so there aren't as many fully vaccinated people, for example from Europe, looking to come here."
According to the latest figures from the Sciensano Health Institute, Belgium is not so far behind the UK in terms of vaccination coverage, with just over 42% fully vaccinated (4.8 million) compared to the UK's 51,8% ( 34.5 million).
"We want to welcome international visitors back to the UK and are working to extend our approach to vaccinated passengers from important markets and holiday destinations later this summer, such as the USA and the EU," Shapps said on Friday. "I will update the House in due course on how we approach vaccinated individuals from other countries."