The foreign secretary has defended the “swift decision” to require travellers arriving in the UK from Spain to quarantine for 14 days.
Dominic Raab said he knows it will cause disruption for holidaymakers but the government “can’t make apologies”.
Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth called the handling of the move “shambolic”.
The new coronavirus travel rule was announced on Saturday following a spike in the number of new cases in Spain, with more than 900 reported on Friday.
Mr Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge the government “took the decision as swiftly as we could” – receiving data on Friday and assessing it on Saturday afternoon.
Asked why holidaymakers were not told earlier that Spain was under assessment, he said giving “vague advice” would “create more uncertainty”.
“There is a cut-off with changes in rules and advice we give, so I appreciate that that’s difficult and it can be disruptive,” he said.
“But it would be far worse to either muddy the waters or to hold back and delay from taking the measures when we need to take them.”
He said that the UK could risk seeing a potential second wave and lockdown if such measures were not made.
Mr Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, told the programme he understands why the decision was made, but that the handling and communication was “frankly shambolic”.
He said the government “had to scramble to confirm” the news after it was broken by the Sunday Times’ Tim Shipman on Twitter.
Mr Ashworth urged the government to provide clarity for “distressed” holidaymakers, and back the decision with financial support.
“This virus will spread when people have got no choice but to go to work,” he said.
“If it’s a decision between putting food on their table or losing their jobs and staying at home, people are going to put food on the table to feed their families.”
Lois Stothard, from South Yorkshire, told the BBC she had booked a holiday to Seville as a surprise for her boyfriend’s 30th birthday but now feels that she cannot travel. They were due to fly out on Sunday morning.
“I’m a key worker – I’m a teacher – and my boyfriend has work commitments so we cannot quarantine for 14 days when we return,” she said.
“We can’t get any money back and to change [the booking] the company want double what I’ve already paid in fees. I’m very disappointed and upset as we’re packed and ready to go.”
John Blackmore, from Hampshire, was also due to fly out to his family in Spain with his wife and two young children. But the new rules mean he has had to cancel, for fears his wife’s employer would not be able to accommodate her taking an extra two weeks off to quarantine on their return.
He said he thought it was unlikely they would get a refund for the flight, as it has not been cancelled.
“I’m devastated,” he told the BBC. “I have family in Spain who haven’t seen their only grandkids since Christmas.