Grant Shapps discusses Track and Trace app alerts

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Grant Shapps appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and fielded questions from host Nick Robinson on the new travel rules which will allow double jabbed Britons to visit amber list countries without quarantining on return. But Mr Robinson pointed out a glaring problem with the Test and Trace app as he pointed out the Government could do little to enforce a coronavirus quarantine on holidaymakers pinged by the app who may choose to delete or ignore the notification. Mr Shapps scrambled to give a response as reports suggest the public may choose to delete the app following a rise in pings despite people being double jabbed. 

Appearing on Radio 4, Mr Shapps answered several questions on the Test and Trace app sensitivity. 

Mr Shapps appeared unaware regarding how the sensitivity could be changed, like decreasing the Bluetooth range between phones, and was instead asked if holidaymakers who have spent huge sums on their trips could ignore the app. 

Mr Shapps said: “We shouldn’t ignore this because it’s vital information, people should want to know whether they’ve been in contact with somebody with coronavirus.

“Not least because long Covid is a serious issue, because you don’t want to be spreading it around, it can still harm people, either their loved ones you might even be going to visit or people that you don’t even know who could end up seriously ill.”

Mr Robinson was not convinced by the answer and pointed out to Mr Shapps: “But people are very human. 

“They might be sitting there thinking this is costing me multiple thousands of pounds this holiday – I don’t want to disappoint the children and the grandparents.

“Is there anything to stop me from simply ignoring that?”

The Tory frontbencher said he did not want people to ignore it to which Mr Robinson quipped: “Well the answer is no, you’d rather I didn’t ignore it, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

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Gaps in the NHS Test and Trace system have been highlighted by some attendees to the Euros 2020 where one person told LBC he was able to skip taking a lateral flow test and simply lie on his form so he could enter Wembley Stadium. 

While legal pandemic restrictions will be lifted on July 19, Test and Trace is likely to stay in place despite issues arising of people not testing positive for COVID-19 still getting pinged. 

Mr Shapps continued: “It’s all it’s always been another tool in our armoury and that’s always been the status of the app.”

While the Government has said doubled-jabbed Britons will not be required to isolate if they are pinged, Mr Robinson also pointed out the new travel restriction easing is on July 19 and says it is “likely” to see thousands of people taking holidays between the two dates. 

He urged Mr Shapps “to be honest” and admit there was a big hole in the Government’s system.

The Transport Secretary simply said holiday providers should be offering refunds for disruptions to holidays anyway so many may not be out of pocket.#

Legal restrictions will be lifted on July 19 which will see social distancing and mask-wearing, among other things, scrapped. 

But Labour Party critics have called for a nuanced approach to the easing of lockdown where, for example, mask-wearing would remain on public transport.

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