A new Covid variant could “run rampant” throughout the country following Boris Johnson’s easing of restrictions for EU and US travellers, Labour has claimed.

New rules that come into effect in England from 4am on Monday will allow fully vaccinated people travelling from the US and the EU to enter the country without the need for quarantine.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said he hopes the US will become more relaxed about allowing Brits to visit “in time”.

The change comes following an encouraging few days with coronavirus cases falling from more than 50,000 in the UK to 27,734 by 9am on Wednesday.

Hailing the policy change, Mr Shapps said: “Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade, this is progress we can all enjoy.”

Asked whether he was confident the US and Europe would reciprocate in allowing fully vaccinated travellers from England without needing to quarantine, Mr Shapps said: “I’ve just spoken to my US counterpart today and in the US they still have an executive order which prevents travel from the UK, from Europe, from several other countries to the US.

“So we’re saying, ‘You can come here, you can come visit, you can come see friends, you can come as a tourist if you’ve been double vaccinated and follow the rules without quarantine’.

“We can’t change that on the other side but we do expect that in time they will release that executive order, which was actually signed by the previous president, and bans inward travel.”

The change has drawn criticism from shadow secretary Jim McMahon who said: “The Government’s track record on our borders has been one of recklessness and confusion.

“They are in danger of continuing this by setting out changes in policy, applying to England only, without the scientific data and criteria we need to make sure we don’t see another Johnson variant run rampant through the country and damage the effort of the British public.

“We want to see international travel opened up safely.

“Ministers need to be clear on what progress has been made on reaching reciprocal agreements for Brits travelling abroad – particularly regarding the NHS app being accepted as proof of Covid status.

“We also need a clear green and red list and the country-by-country data to back it up.”

Scotland follows England to drop quarantine for double-jabbed EU/US visitors

Scotland followed England’s lead and announced the need for travellers to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival is being waived subject to the countries covered remaining on the amber travel list.

Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “This has only been made possible due to the overwhelming success of our vaccination programme here in Scotland when coupled with successful rollouts of vaccination schemes in the EU and US.

“Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel to Scotland under this significant relaxation of international travel measures, providing a boost for the tourism sector and wider economy while ensuring public health is protected.

“This new arrangement will be carefully monitored by clinicians and kept under close review as we seek to put Scotland firmly on the path to recovery – but people should continue to think very carefully about travelling – especially given the prevalence and unpredictable nature of variants of concern.”

Currently, only travellers who have received two doses of a vaccine in the UK are permitted to enter from an amber country – such as the US and most of the EU – without self-isolating for 10 days, except those returning from France.