The Government is facing calls to ditch "rip off" Covid tests for foreign travel as testing guidance was tightened for Brits returning from Spain.

In the latest overhaul of the traffic light system for travel, fully-jabbed travellers from France will be exempt from quarantine from Sunday at 4am and Spain has avoided being placed on the red list.

But ministers triggered fresh anger with new advice for holidaymakers to take PCR tests before they arrive back in the UK from Spain. However it is not a legal requirement.

The rules say all travellers returning to the UK must provide proof of a pre-departure test but it can be a lateral flow or a PCR test.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the decision had been made to recommend PCR tests as scientists are "particularly interested in one of the new variants which is B.1.162" as well as the Beta variant, which first emerged in South Africa.

Holidaymakers returning from Spain are advised to get PCR tests before landing in the UK (


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Tory MPs and travel industry chiefs have criticised the use of more costly PCR tests, which can rack up large bills for families.

Huw Merriman, Tory chairman of Transport Select Committee, said PCR tests for travel were "an unnecessary rip-off" as he pointed to Test and Trace figures

He tweeted: "Passengers are being ripped off with expensive PCR tests.

"We are told this is justified to sequence for variants but only 5% of tests are. This barrier to affordable travel needs to stop now."

Conservative Henry Smith, who chairs parliament's all-party group on the future of aviation, welcomed the changes to the traffic light system but suggested ditching PCR tests for green list countries.

Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Travel Association, told the BBC: "I think a simpler system is definitely what is required to avoid confusion in the case of consumers, and to provide some form of certainty for people who are wanting to travel, and in some cases absolutely need to travel.

"This expensive and unnecessary testing I think needs to be challenged and I think the Government should demonstrate why they require it."

He added: "I think there is a valid reason and a concern, and I would accept that maybe for some of these high-risk countries that have been identified you can make the argument that some form of testing should be done, but I don't think you can justify requiring 2.2 million people to undertake PCR tests when only 8,000 of those are subsequently sequenced."

Mr Shapps insisted the success of the jabs rollout meant that people could enjoy their holidays this month and the next changes to the travel lists would come in three weeks time.

He told Today: "I hope people will be able to go away under this simplified system, enjoy their breaks and not be looking over their shoulders the whole time."

However he said there was no way of ruling out changes completely, saying: "With coronavirus you can never say there is zero chance."

He also defended the decision to hike the price of quarantine hotels for people returning rom red list countries.

From August 12, the rate for solo travellers will rise from £1,750 to £2,285.

Additional adults sharing a room will see their bill hiked from £650 to £1,430.

"It is necessary to cover the costs of the quarantine hotels and at the moment the system hasn't been doing that and it has cost about £75 million, so we are keen to ensure people using them are covering the full cost of this service," he said.