Industry leaders have voiced their disappointment at the government’s decision to require double-vaccinated travellers returning from France to quarantine for 10 days.
The government said the move was made due to concerns over the prevalence of the beta variant of Covid-19. It comes as restrictions for double-jabbed travellers returning from amber list countries are due to be eased from Monday.
An Abta spokesperson said: “While we understand that public health must come first, this announcement will undoubtedly dent consumer confidence in overseas travel just as we are about to see many amber-listed countries opening up for UK visitors in time for the summer holidays.
“Continuing changes to travel restrictions will delay any meaningful recovery for the industry and this news is just the latest example of why a tailored package of financial support for the travel and tourism sector must be introduced.”
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “These random rule changes make it almost impossible for travellers and industry to plan ahead, and can only further undermine consumer trust at the very peak of the summer season.”
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said the decision was “not backed up by the science or transparent data” and accused the government of causing confusion and uncertainty and “making it up as they go along”.
He added: “This move pulls the rug out from under our customers who have already travelled to France or who are booked to travel there and so it is them I feel for.”
Gary Lewis, chief executive of The Travel Network Group, said: “The last few government announcements are a catastrophe for the travel industry. Creating confusion and worry not of the virus but in customers’ fear of their freedom being restricted on return from travel.
“People want and need to travel. Customers are not scared of the risks. The vast majority are no longer at high risk of this disease because we are jabbed or we are young. The most vulnerable are more protected from this risk than many others we don’t protect them from.
“Yes, we must monitor new variants but they are inevitable. The government has to give us our freedom back.”
He added: “The vaccines will stay ahead of variants as they do with flu but we have to live with some risk. Most importantly we have to live.
“Scrap this traffic light system, monitor variants and ensure everyone is double jabbed. Allow our travel industry to trade.
“If not, then the need for financial support for the overseas travel sector until we have had a period of unrestricted trading is beyond critical.”
The rules mean any traveller returning from France will be required to quarantine at home for 10 days and take a test on day two and eight. They will apply to anyone transiting through France on their return.
The health secretary Sajid Javid said: “We have always been clear that we will not hesitate to take rapid action at our borders to stop the spread of Covid-19 and protect the gains made by our successful vaccination programme.
“With restrictions lifting on Monday across the country, we will do everything we can to ensure international travel is conducted as safely as possible, and protect our borders from the threat of variants.”