The transport secretary says he recognises the “crippling” impact of countries being moved to the red list at short notice and hopes the problem is now in the past, thanks to widespread Covid-19 vaccinations.
Grant Shapps made his comments while facing questions from the transport select committee on Wednesday (September 22).
He was asked by Labour MP Ben Bradshaw whether he would give more warning than the 36 hours’ notice given to consumers and the industry in the past – which meant a frantic scramble to get flights home to avoid expensive hotel quarantine.
Some in the trade are concerned that the scrapping of the amber category next month could mean destinations move straight from green to red.
Shapps told the MPs: “I share your frustration about some of the very quick footwork sometimes that has had to be made.”
He recalled how quickly Denmark was added to the red list “within a matter of hours” when there were concerns about a new Covid variant found in mink.
“I hope, given our level of vaccination, and given the level of vaccination moving up around the world, that we have moved away from the bad old days where things had to happen very, very quickly,” he said.
“I absolutely recognise how crippling it is for individuals and communities when these things happen quickly, and I never want to see it.”
However, he did add: “You would expect me, as a government minister, to make it clear that we will do whatever it takes to protect the health of people in this country.”
Shapps concluded: “I am, if you like, genetically inclined to your perspective that we must now try to give people notice, given now that we have the level of coronavirus vaccine protection that we enjoy.”