The government’s failure to set out in a timely fashion how countries will be categorised under a new risk-based traffic light system governing the resumption of international travel later this month "could cost people their jobs".
The House of Commons’ transport committee last month called on the government to publish the long-awaited "green", "amber" and "red" lists by 1 May at the very latest to give the travel industry and consumers at least some chance to prepare for the restart.
Chair Huw Merriman MP said it was "incredible" just two weeks before the proposed resumption of international travel on 17 May that passengers and the industry were "still in the dark" about which countries they can travel and operate to, and the requirements to do so".
He said the government risked squandering the "vaccine dividend" the UK had gained through its rapid vaccination programme. "The UK’s vaccination programme has seen 99% of the mortality risk vaccinated, with 34 million people receiving their first dose, and over 13 million having received two," said Merriman.
"Having expected the rules to be published in April, the transport committee urged the government to deliver to a 1 May deadline to populate the traffic light framework with destination countries.
"This is the bare minimum of planning that the industry and consumers need to begin any sort of preparations for a restart of international travel on 17 May. Instead, uncertainty has been prolonged. This uncertainty could cost people their jobs."
Last month, the Global Travel Taskforce set out a proposal for a three-tier risk-based traffic light system designed to indicate the level of Covid risk in a particular destination, and the rules governing people’s return to the UK from these countries – as well as a "green watchlist" to make people aware of countries likely to slide from the green category to the amber category.
Merriman added: "How can it be right that countries with slower vaccination rollouts are safely reopening to international travellers while the UK stays static?
"The government is in danger of squandering the opportunity to take advantage of the UK’s world-leading ’vaccine dividend’ as countries across the globe begin to open up for international travel.”