Monday 19 July 2021 / 3:29 PM Jim McMahon / Transport

Labour demands clarity on ‘chaotic’ traffic light changes and support for travel sector over the summer

Labour has again demanded the Government be straight with the public and publish the data behind the ‘chaotic’ changes to its traffic light system for international travel.

It follows the addition of France to an apparently brand new ‘Amber Plus’ category – announced via press release on Friday evening – and the Balearic Islands moved from the ‘green watch list’ to amber two days earlier. Those travelling to the UK from France will still have to quarantine for 10 days, despite new rules in place from Monday exempting those who are double vaccinated from quarantine if they have travelled from an amber list country.

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Jim McMahon, will use an Urgent Question in the House of Commons on Monday to demand clarity from ministers and again urge them to publish the country-by-country data informing their decisions on the categorisation of countries. He will also ask the Government to set out the support that will be made available to the travel sector and what criteria will be used to potentially add other countries to the ‘Amber Plus’ list.

He said: “Slipping the announcement of an entirely new category out on Friday evening, giving MPs no opportunity to ask questions, means the Government’s chaotic traffic light system is fast becoming the size of a Dulux colour chart.

“Ministers failed to take swift action to protect our borders from the Delta variant which is tightening its grip across the country. They have completely failed to learn those lessons and are simply making up policy on the hoof.

“The travel industry cannot hope to recover unless ministers are straight with the public – they must publish the country-by-country data informing their decisions, including direction of travel of Covid cases, information on variants and on vaccinations and restrictions.”

As well as the change in rules regarding travelling to France, there are a number of other unresolved issues for international travel, including significant delays at airports for travellers and staff shortages due to employees being told to self-isolate. Last week it was reported that BA was encouraging travellers to bring their bags to Heathrow the night before their flights in order to avoid delays.

The inbound tourism industry has also been hit as foreign visitors are avoiding the UK due to its quarantine rules. The Director of Tourism Alliance has declared the industry “practically dead” as businesses that rely on inbound tourists are left without income.

McMahon added: “Labour has said time and time again that the Government must show leadership, clarity and take responsibility to protect the hundreds of thousands of jobs supported down the travel supply chain. It is critical for the wider British economy and for enabling the public to visit family and friends, or go on holiday abroad.

“It’s time ministers were straight with the public and the industry and stop the drip-feeding of information and U-turning that has become so habitual for Boris Johnson’s government.”