Other countries, such as Germany, have implemented a regional approach. It asks citizens to quarantine only after travel to particularly affected hotspots.
Noel Josephides, a director at the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), said Germany’s “sensible and logical thinking” contrasted with the UK’s “swift panic response”.
He said: “The Government, despite many approaches from the industry, chooses to ignore us and not to seek our input. This is patently foolish and explains to a large degree Government’s apparent stabs in the dark.”
Aviation sources said on Wednesday evening that the power to decide which countries to quarantine – and how – rested too heavily with Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, and the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty.
One source said: “Any view voiced by the chief medical officer and others in the ‘health space’ seems to always outweigh anything else. Whether it’s the consumer benefit from holidays or just the economic benefits of keeping people in jobs in the travel industry, we just seem to be continually losing out in that fight.”
Lucy Moreton, a professional officer for ISU, a trade union representing workers in the UK Immigration Service, warned that a last-minute decision on France could cause a “flood” of Britons attempting to return to evade quarantine.
She said: “What we saw when Spain came off the list was that the communications from carriers to their passengers wasn’t clear. A lot of people also hadn’t completed the health declaration in advance of travel so we saw a lot of angry people who got held up at the border – queues at Heathrow shot up two hours.
“There has been a massive spike in the abuse for staff by passengers who were angry at the Government’s decision.”
Meanwhile, British Airways on Wednesday confirmed that holidaymakers could be offered pre-flight coronavirus tests in a bid to boost demand.
“We are currently discussing the possibility of helping our customers access pre-flight testing through third parties if their destination requires this, but no plans have been finalised. We will share more in due course,” a BA spokesperson said.
Many destinations that have reopened to tourism require visitors to present a negative coronavirus test on arrival, often at the traveller’s cost.