Last week it had been expected the Government would announce the list of countries on Monday but it was put back to the middle of this week – and has now been delayed until possibly Friday.
Ms Sturgeon warned earlier this week that she would not be “dragged along” to approve the UK Government’s air bridges plan from Scottish airports after claiming she had not been consulted.
With Ryanair resuming flights from Scotland to Europe on Wednesday, she said she would make a decision shortly.
The UK Government has powers over border controls but health protection issues on overseas travel must be supported by Scottish government regulations because health is a devolved matter.
Asked about air bridges at her daily briefing on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said that if “I choose to do something different to a decision that perfectly legitimately Boris Johnson has decided to do in England, then there is a number of things you can assume to be the case.
“Firstly, I have very seriously looked at the evidence and decided that is necessary, not for political or constitutional reasons, but necessary from the point of view of tackling the virus.”
She said that if she chooses not to allow air bridges then “I will set out why that is the case and I’ll set out the practical problems, challenges and implications that flow from that and how we will try to deal with them. But I will do that in an orderly way.”
The Telegraph revealed on Thursday morning that the list of countries where there would be so-called “travel corridors” had expanded from some 50 to around 75
The list will lift the Foreign Office ban on non-essential travel to nearly all EU destinations, the British territories including Bermuda and Gibraltar, and Turkey, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
All 75 have been judged sufficiently low risk destinations for holidaymakers based on the prevalence of Covid-19, that their infection rate is in decline and that their data on the state of the disease can be trusted.
The proposal is that from Monday travellers to the 75 countries will no longer have to quarantine for 14 days on their return to the UK although some like Australia and New Zealand are expected to retain border controls and quarantine for as long as the rest of 2020.
It is not clear whether Scotland will be able to block the plan or if Boris Johnson’s Government can go ahead irrespective of whatever Ms Sturgeon decides.
The First Minister tweeted that Mr Shapps’ comments were a misrepresentation of her position but “disappointing and sadly not surprising.”
Scottish Government Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the suggestion the SNP was responsible for the delay was “completely unfounded.”
“We have sought, as far as possible, a four-nations approach to this issue, but such a policy requires meaningful consultation by the UK Government – something which has so far been lacking.
“I joined ministers from the other devolved administrations for a discussion with Matt Hancock last night to discuss the latest UK Government proposed list of ‘air-bridge’ countries – which had been significantly changed from those provided late on Sunday and which were presented to my officials less than an hour beforehand.
“Further information, including yet more revision to the list of countries, was not provided until after the meeting had ended.”