<p>Frequently changing rules caused severe damage to the UK’s aviation industry and inbound tourism (Steve Parsons/PA)</p>

Frequently changing rules caused severe damage to the UK’s aviation industry and inbound tourism (Steve Parsons/PA)

Covid travel restrictions: Grant Shapps admits ‘there were too many changes’

Transport secretary said the removal of the final restrictions last month ‘fills my heart with joy’

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 27 April 2022 11:50
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The government made mistakes with its travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, the transport secretary has conceded.

Grant Shapps was speaking to MPs on the Transport Select Committee two days after their report saying some of the rules were “opaque, ambiguous and inconsistent” as well as “disproportionate to the risks to public health”

For 19 months from June 2020 to January 2022 the UK imposed more onerous, complex and expensive travel restrictions than any other major European country.

On hotel quarantine, the MPs found “no evidence” of any benefit compared with self-isolation at home.

They also deplored the frequent changes in rules, saying: “Restrictions changed more than 15 times between 2020 and 2022.”

In fact, if the many “traffic light” moves between quarantine categories are included, changes run into the hundreds.

The committee said the rules caused severe damage to the UK’s aviation industry and inbound tourism.

Appearing before the committee, Grant Shapps said: “There were too many changes.”

“By way of mitigation the world was trying to work out how to deal with this once in 100-years event.”

Mr Shapps said the removal of the final restrictions last month and the ability to travel more widely “fills my heart with joy”.

The transport secretary was also asked about processing times at the Passport Office.

“I understand they are working hard to tackle the backlog,” he said.

Later, Mr Shapps called on the RMT rail union not to strike over redundancies, pay and conditions. Members are currently being balloted on industrial action.

If they vote in favour, it could lead to the biggest rail strike since the 1980s.

Mr Shapps said: “I don’t think this is the time for industrial action, not least because taxpayers £15bn to keep everything in place.

“We’re all trying to push for an excellent railway. We should get on and deliver that.”

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