The leaking of information about potential hotel quarantines without a timescale or a road map out of the new restrictions will be destabilising consumer confidence, according to TravelSupermarket.

The situation is leading to “sensationalism and speculation” around whether people can take summer holidays, which are five months away.

Emma Coulthurst, travel commentator at the holiday price comparison site, said ahead of a likely decision this evening: “If the hotel quarantine measure is brought in, let’s hope it is restricted to specific countries and is time-limited.” 

Hotel quarantines should be lifted by the end of March and be replaced by a testing regime to enable travel to resume safely again to countries where there is a low incidence of the virus.

“Stop-start measures are not what is needed but a roadmap to enable travel to safely resume to protect the countries which we visit and also to ensure the virus is not brought in when we return,” she said. 

An easy to access, low cost testing system has been needed since last March to help stem the virus spread, Coulthurst added.

But private testing is currently expensive and prohibitive to many at £100 or more per test. 

“The UK government needs to support low cost or, ideally, free testing for UK travellers which they can access in the community,” Coulthurst said. 

UK travellers also need to know that they can rely on getting the test back in time – this hasn’t always been the case with private testing.  

“Countries such as Greece and Spain, whose economies rely on British tourists, will want us to return this summer but will want to know that we are Covid-free. 

When our freedom to travel is returned again, it will, I am sure, become normal to take a test in the days before you fly.

“That will be the way that countries which have closed their borders to UK citizens will reopen them to us – by allowing us in with a negative Covid test result.

“You shouldn’t need a vaccine to fly. It would be discriminatory towards those yet to be vaccinated. It is a combination of vaccine certificates – for those who have one – and testing for everyone which is needed. 

“If people have a package holiday, they have the best protection for their money.”