Holidaymakers have been subjected to 50 changes in the rules for international travel since the first coronavirus lockdown, new analysis has shown.
The analysis completed by PA news agency found testing and quarantine rules for people arriving in England since March last year have been altered 50 times.
A similar number of changes have occurred in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as the devolved nations have largely mirrored England’s rules.
Passengers respond to latest travel changes
The green, amber, and red travel lists have been updated every three weeks since they were introduced in May with the list of quarantine-free travel corridors changing nearly every week during its existence between July 2020 and January 2021.
Many holidaymakers have been forced to cut trips short and rush home before tougher rules for arrivals from their destination were introduced, including Transport Secretary Grant Shapps who was caught out when Spain was removed from the travel corridors list after being on it for just 16 days.
The travel industry has expressed dismay at the “constant rollercoaster” of alteration and has called for regulations to be made simpler.
Chief executive of travel trade association ABTA, Mark Tanzer, said fears about the status of a destination being changed are “reducing the public’s confidence about taking an overseas break” and urged the government to be “much clearer about the data and rationale” behind its decisions.
Whether a person needs to self-isolate on arrival, and what tests must be taken and when, depends on their vaccination status and if they have visited a location on the green, amber, or red list.
Johan Lundgren, the chief executive of easyJet, said: “It’s no wonder that consumers in the UK are confused.”
“Now is the time for the government to simplify the rules around travel, make green truly green and restriction-free, remove expensive and unnecessary testing requirements for the fully vaccinated travelling from amber countries, and put an end to this constant rollercoaster of changes,” he added.
A government spokesman said: “Our top priority is to protect public health. Decisions on our traffic light system are kept under regular review and are informed by the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors.
“We know this is a challenging time for the travel industry which is why we are providing an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and businesses.”
The next update to the traffic light lists is due next week.