Viral Detection tests

PCR/swab test for people with symptoms caused by coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you have any coronavirus symptoms you must isolate immediately for 10 days (don’t wait for a test or a test result before doing so)

Who can be tested?

Anyone of any age can get a free test for coronavirus using a PCR/swab test. This includes:

  • NHS staff (including volunteers) and patients, whether you have symptoms or not (see Information for NHS staff and patients tab below)

  • social care workers (including volunteers) and residents in a care home, whether you have symptoms or not (see Information for care home staff, volunteers, residents and adult social care tab below)

  • all essential workers who have symptoms and anyone with symptoms living with an essential worker (see ‘Information for essential workers tab below).

Tests for essential workers are prioritised over the tests available for the wider public and must go through the GOV.UK. testing website (more details below).

For more information on testing for the general public please see the Information for general public tab below.

If anyone in your household, even if fully vaccinated, has symptoms of coronavirus, they must get a PCR/swab test (it is a legal requirement), and the rest of the household should self-isolate with them whilst they wait for the results. From 16 August 2021, anyone who is fully vaccinated or under the age of 18 years 6 months who lives with someone who gets symptoms of coronavirus no longer needs to self-isolate, (but they too are recommended to get a PCR test). Other non-vaccinated members of the household and above the age of 18 years 6 months who do not have symptoms and have been in contact with the person who does, can also now get a PCR test but should self-isolate. People without symptoms are also eligible for a free lateral flow test.

Guidance on staying at home and self-isolating now covers both PCR/swab tests for people with symptoms and lateral flow tests for people without symptoms. If you have a positive test result from either of these tests (PCR or lateral flow) then you are legally required to self-isolate.

Anyone who tests positive with a lateral flow test (LFT) must get a confirmatory PCR test, using the national testing portal. A negative confirmatory test taken within 2 days of the positive (LFT) test means you no longer need to self-isolate.  However, if the confirmatory test is taken after the first two days or is positive, then the full 10-day isolation period must be followed.

Information is now available in one place on how to access any test for coronavirus, including PCR tests, rapid lateral flow tests, antibody tests and getting test results.

Patients 

NHS Staff

Visiting hospital and other healthcare inpatient settings

Regular testing of NHS staff without symptoms of coronavirus

Testing after the vaccine

Testing for NHS professionals visiting care homes

Lateral flow device (LFD) asymptomatic staff testing at vaccination sites

Regular asymptomatic testing for hospice staff, patients and visitors

Testing for patient-facing staff in Independent Health Providers in England

Quarantine arrangements for exempt nurses arriving from overseas

Unique Organisation Number

Patients

Patients who are to undergo a pre-arranged hospital procedure or operation are required to take a coronavirus test before they are admitted. This will be done by the patient at home before their hospital admission. Patients must take the swab test exactly 3 days before admission. The test must be posted on the same day using the nearest Royal Mail priority postbox by midday, or no later than 1 hr before the last collection time. Where this is not possible patients should ring 119 to book a courier. The guidance takes you through all the steps, includes a few instructional videos and provides the 119 number if help is needed. It now includes supporting guidance on how and when to take each step in the home test kit journey.

All patients undergoing emergency admittance to hospital are tested for coronavirus. If you test negative, a second test will be undertaken 3 days after admission and a third test between 5-7 days following admission

Any inpatient that becomes symptomatic, who has not previously tested positive, should be immediately tested by the hospital Trust.

Patients are not moved until at least two negative test results are obtained, unless clinically justified.

All patients being discharged to a care home should be tested within the preceding 48 hours prior to their date of discharge (unless their hospital stay was less than 48 hrs, in which case their admission test still applies or if they have already completed 14 days isolation after previously testing positive). Anyone testing positive can only be discharged to a designated setting, which must be officially recognised as meeting specific CQC criteria, where they must undergo a 14-day period of isolation, after which they can transfer/return to the care home of their choice.

Each health and social care system is establishing designated settings for their area, which may be specific care homes or other locations. Hospitals, care homes and local authorities must work together to ensure the discharge system is understood by all, including patients and families, and operates safely.

There is also general guidance on the steps to be taken when patients are being discharged to their own home or to other home settings. All hospital patients with symptomatic COVID-19 should be isolated for 14 days from their first positive test, either within hospital or in self-isolation at home if they have been fit enough to be discharged from the hospital.

Individuals with a COVID-19 infection without symptoms, detected on admission to hospital for non-COVID reasons, should be advised on discharge to self-isolate for 10 days from their first positive test. If, during the 10 days isolation after discharge (i.e., at home), individuals develop COVID-19 symptoms, they must self-isolate for 10 days from the day they first develop symptoms.

A patient being discharged home who has not been in hospital for COVID-19 or who has previously tested negative whilst in hospital, may be tested 48 hours prior to discharge if they will require repeated hospital day care or if a member of their household is clinically extremely vulnerable.

Visiting hospital and other healthcare inpatient settings:

Hospitals, mental health trusts, hospices and other healthcare inpatient settings must risk assess what visiting is possible in their circumstances. Some Trusts may be able to move towards more normal visiting. Trusts are encouraged to support limited, Covid secure visiting wherever possible, where infection rates do not prevent this from taking place. Before visiting, visitors should contact the ward department the inpatient is on to confirm visiting is permitted and should be informed about what to expect (i.e., social distancing, PPE and handwashing). The wearing of surgical face masks remains obligatory for all patients and visitors in all areas of all health settings, even after 19 July.

Where visiting remains restricted bedside visiting may be permitted in exceptional circumstances (end-of-life, maternity, and others - see guidance below and should be limited to one close family member or other important contact for the patient. Up to 4 visitors per day is allowed for people who are dying but all visitors must have an LFD test, provided and administered by the Trust. A positive test means the visitor must return home and self-isolate and advised to seek a confirmatory PCR test using the national testing portal.

Visiting healthcare inpatient settings during the COVID-19 pandemic: principles

NHS Staff

Although NHS Trust staff are essential workers, they should use their own organisation’s testing processes. NHS Trusts will test patients in hospital, both on admittance and prior to discharge to other care settings, and staff working in the hospital. Re-tests will also be done where necessary.

NHS staff with symptoms (developed while at work) should inform their employer/line manager and return home and get a PCR test, either through their workplace testing arrangements or via the national testing portal, as soon as possible. If their PCR test is positive, they and their household should isolate for 10 days (this no longer applies to members of the household who are fully vaccinated or under the age of 18 years 6 months). They can then return to work, as long as they have been fever-free for 48 hrs. Some symptoms may remain, but this is normal.

Asymptomatic staff who test positive should follow the same rules, but if they develop symptoms, they must isolate for a further 10 days from when the symptoms began.  Staff who have previously tested positive are exempt from taking a PCR test for a period of 90 days from their initial illness onset unless they develop new coronavirus symptoms.

Staff (clinical, non-clinical, students, contractors included) identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 must isolate. However, fully vaccinated staff who have been identified as a close contact can continue working if they test negative (PCR) and continue to test negative using daily LFD tests for 10 days, do not get symptoms and follow IPC measures. Such staff should not work on clinically extremely vulnerable patients and must self-isolate if they test positive or develop symptoms of coronavirus.

Non-Trust NHS staff and healthcare workers or NHS Trust staff isolating at home follow the specific guidance on testing for essential workers on the Gov.UK. testing website. This testing portal allows staff to book a test by self-referral. Staff who need to self-refer should still notify their employer that they have symptoms of coronavirus and are booking a test.

The self-referral portal provides you with the option of being sent a home test kit or attending a drive-through or walk-through testing centre. You may also be offered a Mobile Testing Unit.

Some drive-through testing centres are for NHS and Social Care staff only and these will be identified when applying for a test.

Tests can also be offered to anyone living with NHS staff/healthcare workers who have symptoms.

If you have requested a home test kit this must now be registered

Register a home test kit.

Regular testing of NHS staff without symptoms of coronavirus

Patient-facing staff in all NHS Trusts (hospital, mental health/community and ambulance trusts) are strongly encouraged to undertake weekly tests for Covid-19. Lateral flow tests were introduced as the initial method of weekly asymptomatic testing and continue to be used across the Trusts in the region but have been replaced by saliva (LAMP) tests in large parts of several Trusts. Lateral flow testing is done twice a week using nasal and throat swabs and provides rapid results in half an hour. From 20 September 2021 saliva (LAMP) testing will also be done twice a week and results provided within 24 hours of being dropped-off. Both tests can be done at home before leaving for work. 

A healthcare staff guide to using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) for asymptomatic testing of patient-facing staff in NHS Trusts and a lateral flow training video have been provided to NHS Trusts. These contain operating procedures for using LFDs and FAQs for staff. The test is voluntary but remains a vital tool in keeping staff, their loved ones, and the patients they care for safe, and reducing the spread of the virus. A positive result for an LFD test requires staff to self-isolate and to take a confirmatory PCR swab test using the Trusts own processes.

Asymptomatic lateral flow devices are also being used by patient-facing staff in all sectors in Primary Care (GPs, pharmacists, and dental practices). The staff guide for asymptomatic testing of primary care staff also contains a standard operating procedure, FAQs, and a supporting video.

The guidance on asymptomatic LFD testing for both NHS Trusts and Primary Care have been updated. From July 2021 staff are now required to order their own LFD tests online and will no longer receive these tests via their employer.

Saliva (LAMP) testing is gradually replacing lateral flow testing across the NHS Trusts in the region, although it is likely some lateral flow testing will remain after saliva testing has been rolled-out to all area. Saliva testing is less onerous for staff to undertake, provides rapid results and does not require a confirmatory PCR swab test. For more information on the saliva staff testing programme go to the saliva staff testing section of these webpages.

Staff who have previously tested positive are exempt from taking a PCR/swab retest for a period of 90 days from their initial illness onset unless they develop new coronavirus symptoms (40 days if this was a done using the saliva [LAMP] test).

Testing after the vaccine

It is really important that you continue to test yourself even after having the vaccine. Although vaccinated people will have more protection from COVID-19, not enough is known about the vaccine’s impact on a person’s ability to transmit the virus. Everyone who has received the vaccine should also continue to follow all infection prevention and control measures. Together, this will help manage infections in hospitals and help protect other staff, and patients, as well as your friends and family.

Testing for NHS professionals visiting care homes

New guidance for testing professionals from NHS and other professions who visit care homes has been introduced. This requires all visiting professionals, including GPs, ambulance staff and community staff, to provide proof of a negative test within the last 72 hours (applicable to both LFD testing and saliva [LAMP] testing) or to have a negative lateral flow test taken at the care home, before being allowed to enter.

NHS professionals who are part of a regular testing regime should use this process to provide proof of a negative test. This can be done in a variety of ways, outlined in the guidance. If it has been more than 72 hours since the NHS professional was tested or the NHS professional is unable to provide proof, the care home should test the individual before entry to the care home. If for any reason this is not possible, it is the decision of the care home whether or not to admit the professional, taking into account the reason and urgency of the visit, unless the professional is required to enter by law.

Professionals who are not part of a regular testing regime will be given a rapid lateral flow test by the care home and must have a negative test result before gaining entry to the care home. If more than one care home is being visited on the same day, the test result from the first visit can be used as proof for any subsequent visits on that day.

This requirement does not apply in the case of an emergency or 999 visit to a care home, but all NHS professionals must follow their regular testing regime to reduce any risk from these visits.

This new testing regime is being introduced due to the substantial risks to care home residents if COVID-19 is introduced to the home. It is essential that professionals and all staff are tested regularly before visiting care homes to reduce the risk of transmission across different settings and to help keep residents and staff safe.

Lateral flow device (LFD) asymptomatic staff testing at vaccination sites

 

All staff at vaccination sites should be provided with access to LFD testing, including volunteers. All NHS staff already accessing LFD testing through their employer (primary care or secondary care) should continue to follow the routine testing already in place. NHS staff on temporary contracts at primary care network or community pharmacy-led vaccination centres should be given a box of 25 LFD tests and follow the primary care standard operating procedure for taking the tests. NHS staff on temporary contracts in hospital hub or large-scale vaccination centres should be given a box of 25 tests and follow the secondary care standard operation procedure for taking the tests.

Volunteers at any setting (PCN/pharmacy-led/hospital hub/large-scale site) should be tested on site at the beginning of their shift, either as an observed self-test or by trained vaccination centre staff. Reporting the results of tests is a statutory requirement and should be done immediately, using the NHS Digital online platform or, where access is available, via the host hospital trust's recording system. Positive tests require self-isolation and a confirmatory PCR test. Tests should be ordered through the relevant primary care or secondary care lead for the vaccination centre. The full operating procedures can be accessed here.

Regular asymptomatic testing for hospice staff, patients and visitors

Hospice managers will receive their unique organisation number (UON) via their email address registered with CQC in order to participate in regular asymptomatic testing through NHS Test and Trace. This includes hospices that have inpatients and those that include or provide community services.

Hospice staff can now undertake weekly, asymptomatic PCR swab tests and twice-weekly lateral flow test (LFT), one of which should be on the same day as the PCR test. Staff must take an LFT before starting work after leave or if they have worked somewhere else. A positive LFT requires a confirmatory PCR test and self-isolation until results are known. A positive test within the hospice requires all staff to take daily LFT testing for 7 days and the hospice manager should contact their local health protection team. Patients may be tested upon admission and on an ad hoc basis if required.

Hospices must use their UON to order test kits on a 28-day cycle, receiving 4 PCR tests and 2 boxes of 7 LFT kits for each member of staff, which managers should distribute to all staff, including those that visit patients in the community. Hospices should use the courier service if returning 5 or more PCR tests or Royal Mail priority post boxes if less than 5 or if testing remotely and can attend the regular webinars on testing that include live Q&A sessions. This is for all staff who provide or support direct patient care, both in or out of hospices and includes volunteers and agency staff who have contact with patients.

Visitor testing is recommended and should be done every time a visit to the hospice is made on the day of the visit, either on-site or at the visitor’s home. If the latter the result of the test must be shown. If the test is positive a confirmatory PCR test is required and self-isolation, but hospice managers have the discretion to determine whether a visit is still possible. The guidance for coronavirus testing for hospices provides the information in full, with all relevant links to ordering, webinars, testing, results etc. Hospices can call 119 with any queries or concerns.

Government policy paper/business plan setting out the next steps for developing the NHS Test and Trace Service by breaking the chains of Covid-19 transmission to help people return to more normal lives can be viewed here.

Testing for patient-facing staff in Independent Health Providers in England

Independent Health Providers in England can now order lateral flow testing kits (LFTs) directly from NHS Test and Trace to support the asymptomatic testing of patient-facing staff. Managers will use their unique organisation number (UON), which will be provided via email by NHS England and NHS Improvement, to order sufficient tests for 7 weeks of testing (to create a buffer of LFT tests) for all patient-facing staff, and re-order every 28 days. Managers are responsible for re-ordering and distribution of test kits to staff. Providers must keep detailed records of test distribution, dates etc. Staff should undertake twice-weekly testing and will need the UON to register test results. Positive tests require confirmatory PCR testing and self-isolation until results are known. The guidance below provides full details of the ordering and testing process, including links to live webinars and Q&A sessions.

A testing service for Independent Health Providers in England

 

Quarantine arrangements for exempt nurses arriving from overseas

Nurses arriving in England from overseas who have been recruited to take-up immediate employment in the NHS and who are from or have travelled through red-list countries (those countries to and from which travel is banned) are exempt from the travel ban and may stay in NHS Trust-arranged managed accommodation for the period of their quarantine (10 days). This is an alternative to the red-list hotel managed quarantine arrangements mandated by the government.

The guidance sets out the standards and conditions that any trust-arranged accommodation must meet in order to provide an alternative to the government’s hotel-managed quarantines. Trusts within a region may work together to provide suitable accommodation, but failure to comply with the standards required, at any time, would mean Trusts must use the government hotel-managed quarantine system until compliance is met.

Nurses recruited as a cohort and who travel from/through a red-list country may form a travel group, which means they will be able to quarantine together and share facilities.  However, travel groups are limited to a maximum of 6 members for quarantine accommodation purposes.

Hospital-managed accommodation must be private or trust-owned and used exclusively for quarantine purposes and cannot be a commercial hotel.

Nurses must have a negative coronavirus test within 3 days of travelling to England and must take PCR tests on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of their quarantine period, as arranged when they booked their travel.  (Travel test packages must be booked by nurses as part of their travel booking). A positive test result requires a 10-day quarantine from the day of the test and requires the quarantine of any travel group members, where this applies.

Full guidance on the standards for Trust-managed quarantine arrangements is here and the government’s red-list managed quarantine arrangements is here.

Unique Organisation Number

Organisations registered with the National Testing Programme (NTP), such as GP practices and care homes, will be issued with a Unique Organisation Number (UON) which will allow better quality data to be produced. Organisations will need to use this number going forward to order new tests kits, book a courier and to register completed test kits for results. The NTP will issue the UON to organisations. See below the links to the UON guide and the spreadsheet that allows 50 tests to be registered at the same time.

 

Unique Organisation Number and multiple registration guidance.

UON testing registration record of users testing spreadsheet.

This section contains testing information on the following:

Care Home Testing

Across the country, there are special arrangements in place for whole care home testing kits, which allow care homes to test all its staff and residents, whether or not they have symptoms of coronavirus.

These are available for all adult care homes, not only those which provide a home for older people or those with dementia but also for homes catering for adults with learning disabilities or mental health issues, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries and other categories for younger adults under 65 years.

All new admissions to care homes, whether from interim care facilities, from another home or from the community, no longer need to self-isolate if they meet a number of criteria, including being fully vaccinated and following a rigid testing regime upon admittance (a PCR test 72 hrs before admission, another on day of admission and another 7 days after admission). Nor should they have been in contact with a positive case in the last 14 days. It is recommended that daily LFD tests are done each day before the 7th day PCR test.

Admissions not meeting these criteria should be tested and self-isolate for 14 days. During the isolation period residents may be supported to visit the grounds of care home without affecting the isolation period. Nominated essential care givers may still visit, even during the isolation period.

Admissions from the community need not self-isolate if they meet a number of criteria, including a rigid testing regime (a PCR test 72 hrs before admission, another on the day of admission and another 7 days after admission). It is recommended that daily LFD tests are done before the PCR test taken 7 days after admission.

Admissions from hospital who have had an overnight stay for elective (planned care) are not required to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated, have not been in contact with someone who tests positive and have a negative test upon their return. Admissions from hospital who have received emergency care are required to self-isolate for 14 days in their own room.

Other, longer stay admissions from hospital will be tested in the preceding 48 hours prior to their discharge from the hospital. Anyone testing positive will only be discharged to a designated care setting that meets CQC IPC standards. In Lancashire and South Cumbria designated settings are being identified to which those testing positive upon discharge from hospital will be accommodated safely until their isolation period of up to 14 days in completed, in keeping with new Government guidance.

From 11 November 2021, all care home workers and anyone entering a care home will need to be fully vaccinated, unless they are exempt. 16 September 2021 was the last date for someone to receive their first dose in order to comply. Exemptions include friends, family, essential care givers, emergency services, urgent repair staff and under 18's (see guidance below).

Vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes: operational guidance

Applications for care home testing must be undertaken by care home managers.

Whole care home testing is available via the Care Home Testing digital portal. Care homes must be registered on the portal to access whole care home testing.

Care homes with a positive test or with a new outbreak (two positive tests within a 14-day period) must contact their local Health Protection Team (HPT) in the first instance (see the guidance on testing in adult care homes)

Care homes must test all staff for 7 days using lateral flow device (LFD) test kits if a resident or staff member tests positive or when there is a confirmed outbreak (2 positive cases in a 14-day period). This should be done before each shift and is part of the Outbreak Pathway provided directly to each care home by the DHSC, and found in the guidance on adult care home testing. Any positive LFD test must be followed immediately by a confirmatory PCR test. In addition, all staff and residents should have a PCR test on day one, and again between days 4-7 if the first PCR test is negative.

The end of outbreak testing can now be undertaken 14 days (previously 28) after the most recent positive case.

Re-testing is done 28 days after the last suspected or confirmed case was recorded, using the whole care home testing process mentioned below.

All care homes which have re-registered for retesting (using the care home digital portal), will need to have staff retested once a week and residents once every 28 days. Once registered, which requires the care homes Unique Organisation Number, each care home will be sent the requisite number of testing kits to fulfil the retesting of the whole care home each month (every 28 days).

In addition to the standard PCR swab test, care home test kits also now include rapid lateral flow tests, which staff are expected to use twice a week, with the first being used at the same time and day as the standard weekly PCR swab test. Staff who have missed their weekly PCR swab test, for whatever reason (leave, sickness etc.) must take a rapid lateral flow test before they begin their first shift back at work. Anyone testing positive using an LFD test must immediately get a confirmatory PCR test on site, register the test using the UON, then immediately self-isolate at home. If the result of the PCR test is negative, they can return to work; if it is positive they must continue to self-isolate and the care home should instigate the outbreak procedures described above.

Care home workers with symptoms should self-isolate and apply for testing through the essential worker testing process, which provides self-referral or employer referral portals. These portals give the option of being sent a home testing kit or attending a drive-through testing centre. Some drive-through testing centres are for NHS and Social Care staff only and these will be identified when applying for a test. Tests can also be offered to anyone living with care home/social care workers who have symptoms.

Home testing kits can be returned via one of the Royal Mail priority postboxes. Check where your nearest priority postbox is.

The Government have produced an updated, detailed guide to PCR and LFD testing in adult care homes, covering all aspects of the testing process, which is available on the UK.Gov care home testing portal. This includes the full guidance on outbreak testing referred to above.  The main guide has been redesigned and provides a full explanation in both text and pictorial forms, on the ordering process and on how to use and manage testing for residents and staff with symptoms (PCR tests), how to use and manage the testing of staff and residents without symptoms of coronavirus (LFD tests), and full guidance on the outbreak testing procedures. There are two additional guides: a step-by-step guide for self-testing using lateral flow devices and a testing schedule for a suspected or confirmed outbreak in a care home.

Delivery of testing kits to care homes

The Government has put in a schedule for the delivery of test kits to care homes. 

This is identified below:

  • By registering on the portal, care homes tell the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that they would like to carry out whole care home testing and that they want to be sent test kits.
  • The testing kits are not sent out on a first come first served basis but follow a priority listing -

1) care homes referred by PHE because they have had a new outbreak,

2) then care homes that have over 50 beds, then those with 25-50 beds

3) and then all other care homes.

The delivery of test kits to care homes follows a priority schedule and is not on a first come first served basis.

Care homes referred by PHE, usually because of a new outbreak, take priority. Care homes with a new outbreak should contact their local Health Protection Team.

Care homes considered to be having an outbreak will receive rapid testing and retesting through the local Health Protection Team. There are two types of testing kit.

To support care homes in undertaking whole care home testing the DHSC currently host webinars on the whole home testing process every morning.  Care homes can register to access the webinar here.

There is a dedicated mail inbox for dealing with any queries about the care home testing process or with the operation of the portal. This is OpsHub@dhsc.gov.uk and wherever possible, queries should be directed to this inbox.

Care homes are encouraged to re-test their staff and residents on a regular basis. All care homes can now register for retesting, using the same whole care testing portal https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-care-home.

By registering for retesting care homes commit to whole care home retesting and subsequent testing of staff (including bank/agency staff) each week and residents every 28 days. Care homes will need to reorder their testing kits each month. 

Alternatively, you can contact the Coronavirus Testing Call Centre on 0300 303 2713. It is open from 07:00 to 23:00 every day.

Staff who have previously tested positive are exempt from taking a PCR/swab retest for a period of 90 days from their initial illness onset, unless they develop new coronavirus symptoms. 

Restricting workforce movement between care homes and other care settings

Care home providers should continue to limit all staff movement between settings unless absolutely necessary to help reduce the spread of infection and new guidance has been introduced to support this. The movement of staff includes:

  • staff who work for one provider across several care homes
  • staff who work on a part-time basis for multiple employers in multiple care homes or other care settings
  • agency or other temporary staff

However, some staff movement may be unavoidable to ensure the needs and safely of people using the service are met at all times. Where movement between 2 settings cannot be avoided or where an agency or temporary worker is needed, a 10-day gap should be followed between each setting or between each deployment in a care setting. Positive LFD tests require an immediate confirmatory PCR test.

A negative test result is also required before staff from another care setting or agency/temporary workers can enter the home. For staff from another setting, they should be testing using an LFD immediately before the shift, every time they return to the care home after working elsewhere. For new agency staff/temporary workers a PCR test should be taken 7 days before starting their placement. They should also be tested using an LFD on their first day before their first shift. All LFDs used should be provided by the National Testing Programme.

All staff deployed by the provider in a care home should be tested regularly as part of the provider's routine testing programme and should join the regular testing regime as soon as possible.

From 16 August 2021, fully vaccinated (2 jabs + 14 days) staff in close contact of a positive case or contacted by NHS Test and Trace/alerted by the COVID-19 app will no longer need to self-isolate and can continue working as long as they get a negative PCR test and negative daily LFT tests across the standard isolation period. If any test is positive or they have symptoms they must self-isolate for 10 days, even if fully vaccinated.

Visiting Care Homes:

Rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests have been distributed to CQC registered care homes to support the visiting of residents. Care homes should endeavour to facilitate visiting, but care home managers must undertake extensive risk assessments to ensure the care home has the right facilities, processes and resources to allow, safe, socially distanced and managed visiting to take place. They should also follow any advice or directions from Directors of Public Health and Directors of Social Services.

From 19 July 2021 every resident can now have an unlimited number of named visitors indoors each day. Although limits have been removed, all named visitors will be required to have an LFD test every time they visit and on the day of the visit, wear PPE during the visit and avoid close contact (although handholding may be permitted).  A summary of the guidance for visitors has been produced (below right). Vaccinations are not a requirement and testing should ideally take place at the care home, although negative LFD tests taken at home on the day of the visit may be accepted.

A broader range of unnamed friends/family can now visit a resident outdoors or in an outer room (conservatory, accessible from the outside), subject to risk assessments and visiting policies. Visits must be arranged in advance and visitors must agree to abide by the rules for visiting put in place by the care home These visits ideally should be in the open air but may take place in outside structures or dedicated rooms, well ventilated, with a screen between visitor and residents and at least a two metre distance maintained throughout.

Visiting is not permitted during outbreaks, unless they are by the nominated essential care giver (each resident can nominate an essential care giver, who may visit even during an outbreak). Rooms used for visits should be well ventilated and rigorously cleaned between visits.

If the resident is not in a position to nominate visitors care homes will contact family and friends for this to be agreed.

For easy reference there is a summary of the guidance for visitors. In addition, there is also a one-page overview of the visiting arrangements for care homes.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) lateral flow testing of visitors in care homes includes all professionals who visit care homes or other social care settings as part of their work, including those who are part of a regular testing programme (such as regular NHS staff testing or testing for CQC inspectors - see information below on professional visits to care homes).

Positive tests for visitors using LFDs require a confirmatory PCR swab test, undertaken by the care home. Visitors must then self-isolate at home.

From 16 August 2021 fully vaccinated visitors who have been in close contact of someone with coronavirus may no longer need to self-isolate but are recommended not to visit a care home unless absolutely necessary, when they should have a negative PCR test prior to the visit and a negative LFD test on the day of the visit. Residents identified as close contacts can continue to receive visitors as normal if they have been fully vaccinated.

Visits out of care homes

From 19 July 2021 visits out of a care home to stay overnight in another indoor setting are permitted if the care home risk assessment indicates it is possible (for the care home and the individual resident) but should not be unduly restricted.

Anyone involved in the visit must have an LFD test prior to the visit, which must not take place if anyone tests positive. Any testing regimes of a place being visited must be followed. Care home staff, one or both nominated visitors or essential care givers can accompany the resident on outdoor visits.

Residents must only self-isolate for 14 days if a visit out of the care home requires an overnight stay in a hospital or at a location that is considered high risk following an assessment. Fully vaccinated residents do not need to self-isolate if returning from an overnight stay in hospital as long as they have a negative PCR test and complete daily LFD tests for 10 days following their return and avoid contact with highly vulnerable residents within the care home.

Full guidance on the arrangements for visiting out of the care home is here

Professional visits to care homes

New guidance for testing professionals from NHS and other professions who visit care homes has been introduced. This requires all visiting professionals, including GPs, ambulance staff, community nursing staff, social care staff and CQC inspectors to provide proof of a negative test within the last 72 hours (applicable to both LFD testing and saliva [LAMP] testing) or to have a negative lateral flow test taken at the care home, before being allowed to enter.

NHS and other professionals who are part of a regular testing regime should use this process to provide proof of a negative test. This can be done in a variety of ways, outlined in the guidance. If it has been more than 72 hours since the professional visitor was tested or the professional is unable to provide proof, the care home should test the individual before entry to the care home. If for any reason this is not possible, it is the decision of the care home whether or not to admit the professional, taking into account the reason and urgency of the visit, unless the professional is required to enter by law.

Professionals who are not part of a regular testing regime will be given a rapid lateral flow test by the care home and must have a negative test result before gaining entry to the care home. If more than one care home is being visited on the same day, the test result from the first visit can be used as proof for any subsequent visits on that day.

This requirement does not apply in the case of an emergency or 999 visit to a care home, but all related NHS professionals must follow their testing regime to reduce any risk from these visits.

This new testing regime is being introduced due to the substantial risks to care home residents if COVID-19 is introduced to the home. It is essential that professionals and all staff are tested regularly before visiting care homes to reduce the risk of transmission across different settings and to help keep residents and staff safe. Similar testing is in place for any visits from family and friends.

Positive tests for visitors using LFDs require a confirmatory PCR swab test, undertaken by the care home. Visitors must then self-isolate at home.

Lateral flow testing in adult social care settings:

New guidance has been issued for all adult social care services where on site testing is conducted using rapid Lateral Flow Tests (LFT). This may include people who work in social care, professionals visiting a social care service for work, people getting care and support from social care services, or people visiting someone who gets care and support.

The guidance provides the step-by-step process for preparing and managing on site lateral flow testing in an adult social care setting and included information on ordering, registering and conducting on site testing. All staff who will conduct rapid lateral flow testing must complete the online NHS Test and Trace training. Each adult social care service will receive access to the training portal through an email from a DHSC training mailbox. All staff need to complete the “How to process COVID-19 tests using Innova Lateral Flow Device Module” before they conduct any tests.

Certain adult social care services will receive a handheld scanner from the National Testing Programme to speed up the registration of test kits, which must be done after a test has been completed and the result is known. Training will be provided to those adult social care services who receive a scanner.

All people being tested must provide their consent and need to be made aware of the Unique Organisation Number (UON) which is used to re-order test kits and to register test results. Anyone testing positive following an LFT must be given an immediate PCR test on site and return home, avoiding public transport if possible. They should self-isolate and if the PCR test confirms the positive test their household will also need to self-isolate for 10 days, apart from those household members who are fully vaccinated or under the age of 18 years and 6 months.

A summary and overview of testing in all adult social care settings has now been produced, which includes the guidance mentioned above, the guidance for professionals visiting care homes and other testing guidance for adult social care.

 

Asymptomatic testing of homecare providers:

All CQC registered homecare agencies, looking after people in their own homes, have been contacted with details of how to apply for test kits for their domiciliary homecare workers to conduct asymptomatic self-testing at home.

Homecare agencies are responsible for ordering and distributing tests, which should be done on a weekly basis (on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday). Agency managers will have received a Unique Organisaton Number which they must use to re-order test kits for their carers every 28 days. This testing programme will be expanded to all other homecare workers, including live-in carers, in a phased roll-out. Personal assistants have already been added (see the section below).

Coronavirus (Covid-19) testing for homecare workers provides detailed guidance to homecare providers and careworkers. This explores how to order test kits; how to encourage the participation of staff; how to use and return test kits; receiving results, and now includes a new step-by-step guide on the vital process of registering test kits by careworkers.

Regular asymptomatic testing of eligible Extra Care and Supported Living Settings 

There are two testing programmes for eligible extra care and supported living settings, one for ‘high risk settings’ and one for ‘wider settings’. To be eligible, settings that meet both criteria below are considered ‘high risk settings’ and those that meet only one of the criteria below are considered ‘wider settings’.

Eligibility criteria for asymptomatic testing:

1) that they are a closed community with substantial facilities shared between multiple people

2) that most residents receive the kind of personal care that is CQC regulated (rather than help with cooking, cleaning and shopping).

To order tests all settings, whether ‘high risk’ or ‘wider settings’ must use the self-referral portal. Referrals are sent to local authorities for approval, based on the eligibility criteria and, if confirmed, providers can then order test kits in line with the guidance.

For high risk settings all staff and residents, regardless of levels of personal care provided, should be offered tests. Staff should take one PCR test and 2 rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs) each week, one of which should be on the same day as the PCR test. All residents should take one PCR test every month. If anyone tests positive all staff should take rapid LFTs for 7 days.

In wider settings staff should take one PCR test each week.

A testing co-ordinator in each setting should order tests every 21 days, using their Unique Organisation Number (UON) and return PCR tests by courier (9 or more tests) or via priority post box (8 or fewer tests). Settings can attend weekly webinars (via the guidance link below). Links to the self-referral portal, webinars and full information on how to order, prepare and conduct PCR and LFT testing is included in the guidance below.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) testing service for extra care and supported living settings

As lockdown restrictions ease visits to and out of supported living accommodation can be supported but, as these are both people’s homes and workplaces, providers of supported living need to undertake overall and individual risk assessments to support a visiting policy, and any visiting arrangements agreed with residents and families. Lateral flow tests (LFTs) can be used to support visiting but is not a condition for visits being able to take place – only people with symptoms should not be allowed to visit.

To support visiting, managers of supported living and other settings can place an order for tests using their unique organisation number (UON) from the test kit ordering portal. Each provider will receive 4 test kits per person per week which can be used to support both visits in and visits out. Visitor testing is not a requirement for visiting and managers should not refuse visits unless the visitor is symptomatic or has been asked to self-isolate.  Visitor testing should be done on the day of the visit whether it is done on-site, using trained staff, or whether undertaken at home by visitors using the universal LFT testing arrangements to self-test (via community/workplace testing programmes or LFT test kits ordered online or via local pharmacies). Although managers of supported living may prefer testing to be done on-site, evidence of a negative test taken on the day of the visit is acceptable.

Any visitor testing positive must self-isolate at home and get a confirmatory PCR test via the national testing portal.

Full information on testing and visits is included here.

Regular asymptomatic testing for hospice staff and patients:

Hospice staff can now undertake weekly, asymptomatic PCR swab tests and twice-weekly lateral flow test (LFT), one on the same day as the PCR test. Staff must take an LFT before starting work, after taking leave or if they have worked somewhere else. A positive LFT requires a confirmatory PCR test and self-isolation until results are known.

A positive test within the hospice requires all staff to take daily LFT testing for 7 days and the hospice manager should contact their local health protection team. Patients may be tested upon admission and on an ad hoc basis if required. Hospices must use their unique organisation number (UON) to order test kits on a 28-day cycle, receiving 4 PCR tests and 2 boxes of 7 LFT kits for each member of staff, which managers should distribute to all staff, including those that visit patients in the community.

Hospices should use the courier service if returning 5 or more PCR tests or Royal Mail priority post boxes if less than 5 or if testing remotely, and can attend the regular webinars on testing that include live Q&A sessions. This is for all staff who provide or support direct patient care, within or out of hospices and includes volunteers and agency staff who have contact with patients.

Visitor testing is recommended and should be done every time a visit to the hospice is made on the day of the visit, either on-site or at the visitor's home. If the latter the result of the test must be shown. If the test is positive a confirmatory PCR test is required and self-isolation, but hospice managers have the discretion to determine whether a visit is still possible. The guidance provides the information in full, with all relevant links to ordering, webinars, testing, results etc. Hospices can call 119 with any queries or concerns.

Personal assistants working in adult social care:

Personal assistants (a person directly employed or self-employed to provide care and support for someone to live as independently as possible) whose work requires them to come within 2 metres of an adult (aged over 18) are eligible for twice-weekly LFT testing. Personal assistants (or their employer) are responsible for ordering a box of 7 lateral flow tests every 21 days and conducting two tests each week (preferably the same days each week).

Results will be available in 30 minutes and must be registered, whether positive, negative or void. If the result is positive personal assistants should immediately get a confirmatory PCR test, using the national testing portal, and self-isolate until they get the results, notifying their employer. A confirmed positive PCR test means the personal assistant should self-isolate for 10 days and follow national guidance.

Before first registering for test kits, personal assistants should attend a webinar, available after 15 February. When first ordering test kits personal assistants or their employer need to identify the address the kits will be delivered to. Links to webinars, test kit ordering portals, swabbing videos and the step-by-step process is available in the guidance here.

The guidance also provides information on where personal assistants can go for support if self-isolation is required (including contacting their local authority/CCG if a replacement cannot be arranged), for financial support if they test positive and how to claim free PPE. Personal assistants who test positive are not required to continue weekly testing for 90 days unless they have new symptoms. 119 should be used for any queries about this process.

Regular PCR and LFT testing for day care centres ​​

Day care centre managers at local authority approved adult day care centres (for those aged over 18), including those attached to care homes, supported living or other locations, can apply for regular PCR and LFT testing of all who attend or work at adult day care centres (including volunteers, specialists and transport drivers).

Managers must register their day care centre on the sef-referral portal in order to receive their Unique Organisation Number (UON), which they use to order test kits. Centre managers are encouraged to join or watch a webinar before commencing lateral flow testing (LFT). Orders need to be placed every 21 days and workers who participate will receive 4 PCR test kits and 2 boxes of 7 rapid LFTs and a confirmatory PCR test kit from each order. PCR tests should be done at home by workers between Thursdays and Sundays, with PCR test kits registered after use and submitted using priority post boxes (workers use the UON to register test kits). LFT tests are used twice weekly, 3 or 4 days apart and results are reported online on the day of the test using the UON and reported to the centre manager.

Service users can choose to be tested at home or on-site; if they choose to test at home they will be provided with 2 boxes of 7 LFT tests by the centre manager, to test twice a week, 3 or 4 days apart. Where service users only visit the day centre once or twice a week the test should be done on the days the visits are made. Service users report results using the UON for the day care centre and should inform the centre manager of their results. Service users are encouraged to watch the videos on LFT testing prior to taking the tests.

Service users who wish to test on-site will be tested by the day care centre upon arrival and do not need to take tests home. Testing should not be mandatory for service users but if they have symptoms or test positive, they should self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test.

Parent and carers can support testing by watching the videos, assisting with the test at home and supporting the registration of results.

A positive LFT for staff or service users requires a confirmatory PCR test.

Full guidance, including webinars for day centre managers, swabbing videos for workers and all relevant portal links is included here.

 

Guidance for children's social care services

There is updated guidance for children’s social care services which is concerned with safeguarding and protecting the welfare of vulnerable children and young people.  The guidance brings together information for providers of non-residential respite services and contains links to other guidance on schools and other educational settings, as well as guidance for school transport services, including the testing available in these settings.

The guidance also identifies the testing now available to foster parents and staff of open residential children’s homes. Foster Carers and staff of Open Residential Children’s homes can now access asymptomatic lateral flow testing twice a week via a test site, by collecting home test kits from a collection site or by ordering home test kits online. They can check the Rapid Test Collection COVID-19 Test and Vaccination Site Finder or check their local council website for site locations. Anyone testing positive using lateral flow tests must immediately get a confirmatory PCR test, via the national testing portal or by calling 119, and self-isolate.

Testing in Children's Homes

Symptomatic children and staff should continue to access testing via a testing site or a home test wherever possible. Children's homes which have completed the online form sent to them by Ofsted to request access to the testing portal are now able to order an initial supply of 10 PCR test kits and a set of 140 LFD test kits.  These can be re-ordered every 21 days.

PCR tests are only to be used for staff or children who are symptomatic or to confirm a positive LFD test and where they may have barriers in accessing a test in the normal way. This applies equally to open and secure children's homes. In addition, children entering a secure home for the first time should be given a PCR test and tested again around 5 to 7 days after arriving at the home. Children may move out of isolation after two negative tests.  If or any reason testing cannot be done, new arrivals must complete 10 days isolation.

LFD asymptomatic testing for staff and children is voluntary. Staff should undertake these tests twice a week at home before attending work - however, proof of a negative test is not required for staff to attend the workplace. LFD test kits can also be used for regular testing of children of secondary school age in both open and secure children's homes. Consent is required for all LFD testing - for children under 16 this must be provided by the responsible person/parent/carer. Even where consent is given the test should not take place if a child refuses to take the test. Once taken, the reporting of LFD test results is a legal requirement.  A positive LFD test requires a confirmatory PCR test.

Home managers must determine how tests can be safely provided but staff should not enter the Home if they are symptomatic. The guidance provides further details on consents, storage, registration, testing, results and using the unique organisation number provided to each children's home that signs into the portal. Homes can contact the DfE Coronavirus Helpline on 0800 046 8687 (open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm) if they have any queries.

Face-to-face visiting is encouraged in children's homes wherever possible, but all visitors should be made aware of how to access regular asymptomatic testing, which has been made widely available since 5 April 2021, via the rapid lateral flow online portal or via workplace or school related testing programmes. Visitors are encouraged to arrange a test on the day of their visit, prior to their arrival. However, care home managers cannot ask visitors for proof of a negative test result to gain entry but do have the discretion to deny visits in certain circumstances.

 

Unique Organisation Number and multiple registration guidance

UON testing registration record of users testing spreadsheet.

This section contains testing information on the following:

Essential worker testing

Home testing

Symptom free testing in the community

Workplace testing programme

Surge testing

Taking rapid flow tests before your driving test

Essential worker testing

Essential (or key) workers are jobs and roles that have been defined by the Government as key to keeping us safe, treating and caring for us if we are sick or unwell or which provide essential services that ensure we can continue to have food, shelter and medication.

Essential workers include:

  • all health and social care staff, including hospital, community and primary care, pharmacists, emergency dentists and staff providing support to frontline NHS services and voluntary workers
  • police, fire and rescue services
  • local authority staff, including those working with vulnerable children, adults and victims of domestic abuse, and those working with the homeless and rough sleepers
  • defence, prisons and probation staff, and judiciary
  • frontline benefits workers, food retailers and road, rail and other transport staff

A full list of essential workers can be found here

To be eligible for testing with a PCR test as an essential worker with symptoms of coronavirus you must be:

  • An essential worker who has been self-isolating for five days or less due to suspected COVID-19 infection,

or

  • A member of an essential worker’s household who has suspected COVID-19 infection and has been self-isolating for five days or less (which has resulted in the member of staff self-isolating as well).

 

Testing is most effective in the first 3 days of COVID-19 symptoms appearing. Testing is considered effective up until day 8.

There is specific guidance on testing for essential workers this provides a self-referral for you or a member of your household (the employer referral portal is now closed).

The self-referral portal allows you to choose between a drive-through appointment, a walk-through local testing solution or a home test kit.

Home Testing

If you have requested a home test kit this will be sent to you by post. Once received, home test kits must be registered before they are used.

You can have a live video call with specially trained NHS Test and Trace staff to help you register and take a home coronavirus test. Download the free Be My Eyes app for IOS or for Android and go to the ‘specialised help’ section.

If you choose a drive-through or walk-through test site you will be directed to a testing centre, where you must follow the rules that apply. You must have an appointment if you have a PCR/swab test; if you turn up at a testing centre without an appointment you will be turned away.

Register a home test kit.

Detailed information and instructions have been provided on how to use a home testing kit. This now includes step by step guides for adults, children and the visually impaired. It also includes an easy read version and a tutorial video from Dr Amir Khan on how to use a home testing kit.  Home test kits are now available to those without internet or digital access by calling 119.

Support from the RNIB for the blind and visually impaired is now available for those using home test kits, accessed via the national testing portal. The RNIB provide online support with home testing or can be called on 0303 123 9999 every day except Sunday.

Anyone who is to undergo a hospital procedure is required to take a coronavirus test before they are admitted. This will be done by the patient at home before their hospital admission. Patients must take the swab test exactly 3 days before admission. The test must be posted on the same day using the nearest Royal Mail priority postbox by midday, or no later than 1 hr before the last collection time. Where this is not possible patients should ring 0800 0511 811 (free to mobiles and landlines) to book a courier. The guidance takes you through all the steps, includes a few instructional videos and provides the 0800 051 811 number if help is needed. It now includes supporting guidance on how and when to take each step in the home test kit journey.

Home testing kits can be returned via one of the Royal Mail priority postboxes. Check where your nearest priority postbox is.

Anyone who has previously tested positive is exempt from taking a PCR/swab retest for a period of 90 days from their initial illness onset, unless they develop new coronavirus symptoms.

Anyone on low income who cannot work from home and will lose income as a result of being contacted by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, may be entitled to a £500 payment from their local authority under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. The Government has issued guidance on the criteria and how to claim the payment via your local authority.

Rapid self-test kits (lateral flow devices) may be made available to people at home via their workplace, local authority community test site, university or school, or via the new universal testing programme, which gives anyone in England access to rapid test kitsGuidance is available to help people undertake the test, which includes a video demonstration and support for 200 languages via the 119 number, plus an InterpreterNow service. Anyone contacted and sent a rapid self-test kit will be sent full instructions.

There are now several types of LFD test (some are nose only, others throat and nose) so you should always check the instructions. Test results should be available within 2 hours if it was done at a test site and within 30 minutes if done at home. Once you receive a rapid test result you are legally obliged to report your result online or by telephone (call 119) (whether positive or negative) to the NHS.

Anyone who tests positive with a lateral flow test (LFT) must get a confirmatory PCR test, using the national testing portal. A negative confirmatory test taken within 2 days of the positive (LFT) test means you no longer need to self-isolate.  However, if the confirmatory test is taken after the first two days or is positive, then the full 10-day isolation period must be followed.

The stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infections also contains detailed information on home testing (including Travellers), self-isolation rules (including those applying after 16 August 2021), reducing the spread of infection and Covid-19 vaccinations.

As lockdown measures ease hospitals and other trusts are looking to increase the availability of patient visiting, but in a controlled, Covid-secure way. As part of this process, supported by the universal asymptomatic testing programme, trusts in Lancashire and South Cumbria are opening some (longer stay) wards to more visitors, as long as they can show negative lateral flow test results and are taking twice-weekly lateral flow tests during the period of their visiting.

The wearing of surgical face masks in hospitals and other health care locations, including GP Practices, remains mandatory, even though this is now optional in most other locations and venues.

From 16 August 2021, anyone who is fully vaccinated (two jabs + and extra 14 days after the second jab) or under the age of 18 years 6 months is no longer required to self-isolate if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus but is recommended to get a PCR test. This applies if you live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive, or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace or the COVID app. Self-isolation is a legal requirement if the close contact develops symptoms or tests positive, or if they are not fully vaccinated and over 18 years 6 months.

Symptom-free testing in the community

Community testing has now been largely replaced by the universal rapid lateral flow testing programme, which is aimed at testing people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus but may still have the virus. It is estimated that around one in three people might display no symptoms but are still infectious. Some local authorities still retain community testing sites and these can be accessed via the national testing portal.

Rapid LFD testing can be accessed in several ways, including through a home ordering or Pharmacy Collect service, which allows people to order LFD tests online or via their local pharmacy.

Universal, symptom free LFD testing, can also be accessed through:

·       a workplace testing programme, on-site or at home (see below)

·       local authority community testing sites

·       by collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collections time windows, or

·       via schools and colleges.

Anyone who tests positive with a lateral flow test (LFT) must get a confirmatory PCR test, using the national testing portal. A negative confirmatory test taken within 2 days of the positive (LFT) test means you no longer need to self-isolate.  However, if the confirmatory test is taken after the first two days or is positive, then the full 10-day isolation period must be followed.

The link below allows you to check if you can still get a symptom-free test from your local council and includes a YouTube video introduction to Rapid Lateral Flow testing.

Understanding Lateral Flow antigen testing for people without symptoms.

The universal availability of lateral flow testing has reduced the necessity for full scale community testing programmes.  The testing available through local authority’s, now mainly taking place in libraries, can be found here:

·         Lancashire County Council (opens in a new window), 

·         Cumbria County Coucil (opens in a new window), 

·         https://www.blackburn.gov.uk/coronavirus/test-trace-self-isolate

·         Blackpool Borough Council (opens in a new window)

Workplace testing programme 

Free COVID-19 tests for workplaces has now ceased. Workplaces should now either buy their own tests and set up their own workplace testing programme or pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site for the workplace.  If a workplace cannot provide testing they can ask employees to get their own rapid lateral flow test at home, which remain free. Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus or needing to confirm a positive LFT result can continue to get a free PCR test using the national testing portal, but must self-isolate, even if fully vaccinated.

From 16 August 2021 anyone who has been notified as a close contact by NHS Test and Trace or the COVID App does not need to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated (two jabs + 14 days via an MHRA approved vaccine in the UK) or below the age of 18 yrs 6 months or are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons, but are recommended to get a PCR test. If this is positive then you must self-isolate. Anyone not falling into these categories must continue to self-isolate unless they are participating in an approved daily contact testing scheme.

Daily contact testing is only available to workplaces that have been approved to take part in the workplace daily contact testing scheme and initially, this is in workplaces that provide essential services, including food distribution and production, emergency services, transport networks, defence, prisons, waste collection and energy.

Staff working in these workplaces who, after 16 August, are not exempt from self-isolating, can choose to take part in daily contact testing, rather than self-isolate, where they have been identified as the close contact of someone outside their household who has tested positive for COVID-19 and are not exempt from self-isolation. This involves taking a lateral flow test each day for 7 days at an approved testing site within the workplace or, for days on which they do not get tested at an approved testing site, self-isolating at home. They must self-isolate until they take their first lateral flow test, except that they can travel to work to take that test.

Information for employers on the gov.uk portal for workplace coronavirus tests confirms the current position on workplace testing and provides alternatives to employers unable to provide their own testing.

Farms and agricultural businesses who employ seasonal workers from abroad can use the workplace testing programme to meet the requirements of the bespoke testing regime that has been introduced for foreign nationals working in England, which requires LFD testing on or before days 2, 5 and 8 after arrival. Find more guidance here - testing for seasonal agricultural workers coming to work on English farms.

From mid-April 2021 LFD home test kits will be available for collection from all courts and tribunals for all professional court users, legal professionals, judiciary, contractors, jurors, witnesses and staff. Irregular court/tribunal users or those who prefer a home delivery can use the home ordering service.

The workplace testing guidance for private sector employers and third-party health providers, in addition to the registration portal, also has information about using an accredited private sector third-party test provider. The guidance provides various links to follow.

 

Surge testing

Surge testing for new coronavirus (COVID-19) variants is not currently being carried out in any local authorities in England. Surge testing is increased testing (including door-to-door testing in some areas) and enhanced contact tracing in specific locations in order to monitor, suppress and better understand new variants and mutations of COVID-19. This testing is for people without symptoms.

When surge testing is in place the guidance will identify the areas within England where this is happening and will be updated regularly. Any local authority identified will have more details on their website of the specific areas for surge testing within their boundary.

Taking rapid flow tests before your driving test

It is now recommended that a lateral flow test should be taken up to 4 days before taking your driving test. This is best done as part of the regular, twice-weekly lateral flow testing now available to everyone in England. Another test should be done after the driving test, again preferably, as part of the regular asymptomatic testing. These tests are only for people without the symptoms of coronavirus.

Although testing is recommended it is not obligatory and driving tests can still be taken without having a lateral flow test. If someone tests positive, they should immediately take a confirmatory PCR test and self-isolate. If this happens it is possible to change your driving test appointment for free, within 4 days of a positive test result, using the ‘lateral flow rebooking’ tab.

The wearing of face coverings/masks during a driving test is still required, even after 19 July 2021, when the wearing of face coverings became optional.

Find the full guidance and all the relevant links here.

 

This section contains testing information on the following:

Testing for the general public

Home testing

Symptom free testing in the community

Workplace testing programme

Surge testing

Taking rapid flow tests before your driving test

Testing for the general public ​​​

Anyone with symptoms can ask for a test, whatever your age. You can ask for a test for yourself or for somebody that lives with you.  For anyone over the age of 13 you must have their consent if you are applying for a test on their behalf.

The test must be done within the first 8 days of having symptoms; you should apply therefore, within the first 3 to 5 days of having symptoms.

Ask for a coronavirus test here.

Tests for the general public use the national testing portal (reached via the link above). You will be offered the choice of a home test or a test via a drive-through testing centre or walk-through local testing solution.

You may be given the option of a Mobile Testing Unit if one is available.

If you choose a drive-through or walk-through you will be directed to a testing centre, where you must follow the rules that apply.

You must have an appointment if you have a PCR/swab test​​​​​​; if you turn up at a testing centre without an appointment you will be turned away.

Home testing

If you have requested a home test kit this will be sent to you by post. Once received, home test kits must be registered before they are used. 

You can have a live video call with specially trained NHS Test and Trace staff to help you register and take a home coronavirus test. Download the free Be My Eyes app for IOS or for Android and go to the ‘specialised help’ section.

Detailed information and instructions have been provided on how to use a home testing kit. This now includes step by step guides for adults, children and the visually impaired. It also includes an easy read version and a tutorial video from Dr Amir Khan on how to use a home testing kit.  Home test kits are now available to those without internet or digital access by calling 119.

Support from the RNIB for the blind and visually impaired is now available for those using home test kits, accessed via the national testing portal. The RNIB provide online support with home testing or can be called on 0303 123 9999 every day except Sunday.

Anyone who is to undergo a hospital procedure is required to take a coronavirus test before they are admitted. This will be done by the patient at home before their hospital admission. Patients must take the swab test exactly 3 days before admission. The test must be posted on the same day using the nearest Royal Mail priority postbox by midday, or no later than 1 hr before the last collection time. Where this is not possible patients should ring 0800 0511 811 (free to mobiles and landlines) to book a courier. The guidance takes you through all the steps, includes a few instructional videos and provides the 0800 051 811 number if help is needed. It now includes supporting guidance on how and when to take each step in the home test kit journey.

Home testing kits can be returned via one of the Royal Mail priority postboxes. Check where your nearest priority postbox is.

Watch the government's Let's get back video.

Anyone on low income who cannot work from home and will lose income as a result of being contacted by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, may be entitled to a £500 payment from their local authority under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. The Government has issued guidance on the low income criteria and how to claim the payment via your local authority.

Rapid self-test kits (lateral flow devices) may be made available to people at home via their workplace, local authority community test site, university or school, or via the universal testing programme, which gives anyone in England access to rapid test kitsGuidance is available to help people undertake the test, which includes a video demonstration and support for 200 languages via the 119 number, plus an InterpreterNow service. Anyone contacted and sent a rapid self-test kit will be sent full instructions.

There are now several types of LFD test (some are nose only, others throat and nose) so you should always check the instructions. Test results should be available within 2 hours if it was done at a test site and within 30 minutes if done at home. Once you receive a rapid test result you are legally obliged to report your result online or by telephone (call 119) (whether positive or negative) to the NHS.

Once you receive a rapid test result you are legally obliged to report your result online or by telephone (call 119) (whether positive or negative) to the NHS.

Anyone who tests positive with a lateral flow test (LFT) must get a confirmatory PCR test, using the national testing portal. A negative confirmatory test taken within 2 days of the positive (LFT) test means you no longer need to self-isolate.  However, if the confirmatory test is taken after the first two days or is positive, then the full 10-day isolation period must be followed.

The stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infections also contains detailed information on home testing (including Travellers), self-isolation rules (including those applying after 16 August 2021), reducing the spread of infection and Covid-19 vaccinations.

As lockdown measures ease hospitals and other trusts are looking to increase the availability of patient visiting, but in a controlled, Covid-secure way. As part of this process, supported by the universal asymptomatic testing programme, trusts in Lancashire and South Cumbria are opening some (longer stay) wards to more visitors, as long as they can show negative lateral flow test results and are taking twice-weekly lateral flow tests during the period of their visiting.

The wearing of surgical face masks remains mandatory in hospitals and other health care locations, including GP Practices, even though this is now optional in most other locations and venues.

From 16 August 2021, anyone who is fully vaccinated (two jabs + and extra 14 days after the second jab) or under the age of 18 years 6 months is no longer required to self-isolate if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, but is recommended to get a PCR test. This applies if you live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive, or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace or the COVID app. Self-isolation is a legal requirement if the close contact develops symptoms or tests positive, or if they are not fully vaccinated and over 18 years 6 months.

Symptom-free testing in the community

Community testing has now been largely replaced by the universal rapid lateral flow testing programme, which is aimed at testing people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus but may still have the virus. It is estimated that around one in three people might display no symptoms but are still infectious. Some local authorities still retain community testing sites and these can be accessed via the national testing portal.

Rapid LFD testing can be accessed in several ways, including through a home ordering or Pharmacy Collect service, which allows people to order LFD tests online or via their local pharmacy.

Universal, symptom free LFD testing, can also be accessed through:

·       a workplace testing programme, on-site or at home (see below)

·       local authority community testing sites

·       by collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collections time windows, or

·       via schools and colleges.

Anyone who tests positive with a lateral flow test (LFT) must get a confirmatory PCR test, using the national testing portal. A negative confirmatory test taken within 2 days of the positive (LFT) test means you no longer need to self-isolate.  However, if the confirmatory test is taken after the first two days or is positive, then the full 10-day isolation period must be followed.

The link below allows you to check if you can still get a symptom-free test from your local council and includes a YouTube video introduction to Rapid Lateral Flow testing.

Understanding Lateral Flow antigen testing for people without symptoms.

The universal availability of lateral flow testing has reduced the necessity for full scale community testing programmes.  The testing available through local authorities, now mainly taking place in libraries, can be found here:

·          Lancashire County Council (opens in a new window), 

·         Cumbria County Coucil (opens in a new window), 

·         https://www.blackburn.gov.uk/coronavirus/test-trace-self-isolate

·         Blackpool Borough Council (opens in a new window)

 

Workplace testing programme

Free COVID-19 tests for workplaces have now ceased. Workplaces should now either buy their own tests and set up their own workplace testing programme or pay an approved provider to provide tests or run a test site for the workplace.  If a workplace cannot provide testing, they can ask employees to get their own rapid lateral flow test at home, which remain free. Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus or needing to confirm a positive LFT result can continue to get a free PCR test using the national testing portal, but must self-isolate, even if fully vaccinated.

From 16 August 2021 anyone who has been notified as a close contact by NHS Test and Trace or the COVID App does not need to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated (two jabs + 14 days via an MHRA approved vaccine in the UK) or below the age of 18 yrs 6 months or are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons but are recommended to get a PCR test. If this is positive, then you must self-isolate. Anyone not falling into these categories must continue to self-isolate unless they are participating in an approved daily contact testing scheme.

Daily contact testing is only available to workplaces that have been approved to take part in the workplace daily contact testing scheme and initially, this is in workplaces that provide essential services, including food distribution and production, emergency services, transport networks, defence, prisons, waste collection and energy.

Staff working in these workplaces who, after 16 August, are not exempt from self-isolating, can choose to take part in daily contact testing, rather than self-isolate, where they have been identified as the close contact of someone outside their household who has tested positive for COVID-19 and are not exempt from self-isolation. This involves taking a lateral flow test each day for 7 days at an approved testing site within the workplace or, for days on which they do not get tested at an approved testing site, self-isolating at home. They must self-isolate until they take their first lateral flow test, except that they can travel to work to take that test.

Information for employers on the gov.uk portal for workplace coronavirus tests confirms the current position on workplace testing and provides alternatives to employers unable to provide their own testing.

Farms and agricultural businesses who employ seasonal workers from abroad can use the workplace testing programme to meet the requirements of the bespoke testing regime that has been introduced for foreign nationals working in England, which requires LFD testing on or before days 2, 5 and 8 after arrival. Find more guidance here - testing for seasonal agricultural workers coming to work on English farms.

From mid-April 2021 LFD home test kits will be available for collection from all courts and tribunals for all professional court users, legal professionals, judiciary, contractors, jurors, witnesses and staff. Irregular court/tribunal users or those who prefer a home delivery can use the home ordering service.

The workplace testing guidance for private sector employers and third-party health providers, in addition to the registration portal, has another option for employee testing: this is using an accredited private sector third-party test provider. The guidance provides the various links to follow for each option.

Surge testing

Surge testing for new coronavirus (COVID-19) variants is not currently being carried out in any local authorities in England. Surge testing is increased testing (including door-to-door testing in some areas) and enhanced contact tracing in specific locations in order to monitor, suppress and better understand new variants and mutations of COVID-19. This testing is for people without symptoms.

When surge testing is in place the guidance will identify the areas within England where surge testing is happening and will be updated regularly. Any local authority identified will have more details on their website of the specific areas for surge testing within their boundary.

Taking rapid flow tests before your driving test

It is now recommended to take a lateral flow test up to 4 days before taking your driving test. This is best done as part of the regular, twice-weekly lateral flow testing now available to everyone in England. Another test should be done after the driving test, again preferably, as part of the regular asymptomatic testing. These tests are only for people without the symptoms of coronavirus.

Although testing is recommended it is not obligatory and driving tests can still be taken without having a lateral flow test. If someone tests positive, they should immediately take a confirmatory PCR test and self-isolate. If this happens it is possible to change your driving test appointment for free, within 4 days of a positive test result, using the ‘lateral flow rebooking’ tab.

The wearing of face coverings or face masks during a driving test are still required, even after 19 July 2021 when this became optional for most other locations or venues.

Find the full guidance and all the relevant links here

This section contains testing information on the following:

PCR testing for staff/pupils/students with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)

All pupils, teachers and staff in schools and FE providers are expected to access PCR/swab testing via the normal testing channels identified on these pages, by using the national online booking portals to access a regional testing site, mobile testing unit or to order a home test kit. However, in order to respond to exceptional circumstances, when it is felt a child or staff member cannot access these routes, every school and further education provider has been provided with 10 home test kits. These test kits may be offered to key teaching personnel self-isolating at home if it is considered that the teacher(s) concerned is unable to access testing in the normal way. The guidance below explains this further.

Coronavirus (Covid-19): home test kits for schools and FE providers.

There is also guidance for special schools and other specialist settings. Guidance on testing on what to do if someone is showing symptoms of coronavirus is covered in sections 8 and 9: Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings

When to book a test for your child/pupil

Public Health England, the NHS Test and Trace Service and the Department of Education have also reinforced the message to all schools and parents that you should only book a PCR test (using the national testing portal) for your child in limited circumstances. The main reason is if your child has any of the main three coronavirus symptoms (a new high temperature; a new continuous cough for more than an hour or three or more episodes in 24 hours; and a change or loss of smell or taste). A PCR test can also be booked if they have been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms or to confirm a positive lateral flow test.

  • Your child does not need a test if they have a runny nose, are sneezing or feeling unwell but do not have a temperature, cough or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste because these are not normally symptoms of coronavirus.
  • If you are unsure about whether to get a test, please check the official list of symptoms on the NHS website, which is reviewed regularly.
  • All members of the household need to self-isolate whilst waiting for the test result. From the 16 August 2021, household members who are under 18 and anyone 18 or over who has been fully vaccinated (both jabs plus 14 days) no longer need self-isolate but is advised to get a PCR test immediately. If this test is positive or they develop symptoms, they should self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status.
  • If the person with symptoms’ test comes back positive, other members of their household should continue self-isolating for 10 days but may now also get a PCR test if they wish. From 16 August 2021 the new rules apply, and those under 18 or fully vaccinated need not self-isolate following the positive test of a member of their household but are recommended to get a PCR test themselves.

No one else in the same class as the symptomatic person needs to take any action unless advised by the school or the Director of Public Health. Schools have detailed guidance and access to a Department for Education and Public Health England helpline for advice and support. Contacts of a person who has tested positive must follow the guidance carefully and in full, which means they must stay at home for 10 days (although the new rules for under 18s and fully vaccinated adults applies from 16 August). This is because it can take several days following contact with an infected person before an individual develops symptoms or the virus can be detected. Although they can get a PCR test if they wish they are only obliged to do so if they get symptoms of coronavirus.

The NHS replaced and updated the guidance on what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during Covid-19 and have also included this in a new summary of the guidance for parents and carers.

Universities may utilise various testing methodologies. Some Local Testing Solution sites are located in or near universities (including Edge Hill and UCLan in Lancashire and South Cumbria).

In addition, cohort pool testing for coronavirus is being offered to universities on a voluntary basis; universities must opt in. This is a pilot, and provides the opportunity for up to 5 students, who may be sharing accommodation, to undertake a pooled test. If a household has more than 5 students, they must form additional groups of up to 5. Pooled testing is voluntary and uses PCR home test kits – universities have participation forms and require a lead student for each group of 5 in a household.

Testing for staff/pupils/students without the symptoms of coronavirus (asymptomatic testing)

Universities and other HE providers have been provided with guidance from the Department of Education on managing the return of students to university and relevant placements. From 19 July HE providers no longer have restrictions on the approach to teaching and learning - social distancing and other measures no longer legally apply, but HE providers should continue to conduct risk assessments, make efforts to reduce the risk of transmission wherever possible and have contingency plans in place to deal with positive cases of COVID-19 or outbreaks. Asymptomatic testing should continue throughout the summer break for staff/students where settings remain open. From 19 July face coverings are no longer required but HE providers should be prepared to reintroduce this where circumstances, such as outbreaks, make this advisable.

HE providers should strongly encourage all staff and students to participate in the testing programme. Students should expect to test before travelling back to university in the autumn and have two lateral flow tests immediately upon arrival, using on-site or home test kits.  The approach to continuing twice weekly testing in the autumn term, thereafter, is yet to be determined.

Any student with a positive LFD test should self-isolate and get a confirmatory PCR test, preferably within 2 days of the positive LFD test. If taken after the 2-day period students will need to continue to self-isolate for the full 10 days even if the PCR test is negative. Students returning or continuing on a placement should follow the testing arrangements of their workplace

Self-isolation and testing for staff and students with symptoms continues to apply even if fully vaccinated. After 16 August fully vaccinated adults over 18 years and 6 months will not have to self-isolate if contacted by NHS Test and Trace  or living with someone as a close contact. Students who turn 18 and decide not to be vaccinated will still have to self-isolate after 16 August. Those who elect to be vaccinated will be treated as under 18’s for a six month period, to give them time to be vaccinated.

The guidance has also been updated to reflect the latest travel, testing and quarantine arrangements for students travelling from overseas under the new red, amber and green list rules for international travel, although this is due to change again on 4 October 2021.

 

Asymptomatic testing of staff and students in secondary schools and Further Education colleges,

, has been introduced by the Department of Education. The guidance for FE colleges is now separate from but similar to the guidance for secondary schools, which identify the actions schools and colleges should take to reduce transmission of the virus and provides updated, detailed guidance on testing and asymptomatic testing for staff, pupils and students. 

Asymptomatic testing is voluntary, both by schools/colleges and by staff and pupils/students within them. Pupils in primary schools should not be tested. From 19 July 2021 the compulsory wearing of face coverings and the requirement to work in 'bubbles' will no longer apply, although the wearing of face coverings on public or dedicated school transport is recommended.

When students/pupils return in the autumn term, all secondary schools/sixth forms/FE colleges should use their on-site Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) to offer two lateral flow test, 3 to 5 days apart.  Anyone testing positive should immediately self-isolate and get a confirmatory PCR test using the national testing portal. Schools/colleges may implement a phased return during the first week in order to conduct the testing required, which remains voluntary.

Once the 2 tests on-site have been completed all pupils/students will be provided with home test lateral flow kits to undertake self-swab tests at home twice a week until the end of September, when this will be reviewed.

Primary school pupils going on to secondary schools will be offered the 2 tests at an ATS at the beginning of the autumn term when they start at their secondary school as a new year 7. Schools may choose, however, to start testing year 6 pupils earlier, including in summer schools, depending on their local circumstances.

Staff will be provided with home test kits to conduct twice weekly testing. All staff and pupils/students must inform NHS Test and Trace of the results of each test, either online or via the phone, as instructed in the home test kit. A positive test at home requires self-isolation and a confirmatory PCR test.

From 19 July schools/FE providers no longer have any contact tracing responsibilities for close contacts, which will be undertaken by NHS Test and Trace. From 16 August 2021, children under the age of 18 years and 6 months and fully vaccinated adults will not need to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace or live with someone as a close contact. Schools/colleges may retain a small ATS on-site to test pupils who are unable or unwilling to test at home.

Primary schools and early years providers are included in a separate of lateral flow testing programme (see section below). Secondary schools or FE colleges which decide not to participate in the rapid testing programme should apply for testing in the usual way. Schools and colleges have been provided with a link to comprehensive guidance and training. Testing for pupils/staff with symptoms continues to be accessed via the national testing portal.

Rapid asymptomatic testing in special schools and other specialist settings

In response to the distinct issues in these settings, a supplementary guidance framework has now been provided to support the asymptomatic testing programme in special schools, alternative provision (AP) settings, pupil referral units, special post-16 institutions and independent and non-maintained special schools.

These settings are encouraged to implement testing for staff and pupils, but this remains voluntary. Informed consent for pupils and young people must be provided before testing can take place and pupils/young people must be willing to take the test. Staff are encouraged to test at home twice a week (3 or 4 days apart), using home-test kits provided by the school, and can include all staff employed or working within the school/setting. This can also be extended to school nurses, drivers and others who visit the school, in liaison with staff and employers. Primary school age pupils should not be offered tests.

It is recommended that a small, Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) should be maintained at school settings even after the move to home testing for most staff/pupils. The guidance provides the full information and support for asymptomatic testing in special schools/settings, including approaches to the testing of pupils with special educational needs (SEND). Staff and pupils testing at home need to self-isolate if they test positive but must get a confirmatory PCR swab test using the national testing portal.

Staff and pupils testing positive using an LFD test should immediately self-isolate but must get a confirmatory PCR swab test using the national testing portal. From 19 July 2021, new guidance will be in place to cover the changes that take place from this date (also accessible via the guidance link above).

Secondary aged students should receive 2 on-site lateral flow tests, 3 to 5 days apart, upon their return in the autumn term.  They should then continue twice weekly home testing until the end of September, when testing will be reviewed.  Staff should undertake twice weekly testing whenever they are on site, until the end of September. 

Asymptomatic testing of staff in primary schools, school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools​​​​​

Symptom-free testing of staff in primary schools, school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools (including pupil referral units, non-maintained special schools and independent schools) has been introduced from the week commencing 18 January 2021. Pupils at these schools do not need to be tested. Testing is voluntary but is strongly encouraged and will use Lateral Flow Devices provided to all schools who wish to participate.

Staff must undertake the tests at home, twice a week and must report their results to NHS Test and Trace online or by phone, and to their school/nursery. Staff returning from leave should take an LFD test before beginning their shiftStaff with a positive LFD test result must self-isolate and get a confirmatory PCR test.

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, even if they get a negative LFD test, should self-isolate and get a PCR test in the usual way. Further information, guidance, materials and webinars will be made available in the near future.

Rapid asymptomatic testing of staff in early years settings:

This includes staff from school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools, staff in private, voluntary and independent nurseries and childminders. From19 July 2021 any restrictive measures no longer apply, but risk assessments and outbreak plans need to be in place. Local Directors of Public Health may recommend the wearing of face coverings during an outbreak and the Government recommends them to be worn on public transport and on dedicated school transport, even though the legal requirement has been removed. Hygiene, ventilation and robust cleaning regimes should still be in place.

Asymptomatic testing programmes for staff, using lateral flow devices (LFDs), should continue through the summer for any facilities that remain open and for all facilities until the end of September, when the position will be reviewed. Participation remains voluntary but is strongly encouraged and positive LFD tests must be followed up by self-isolation and a confirmatory PCR swab test via the national testing portal.

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus should continue to access the national testing portal as before.

Childminders and wraparound childcare providers are not provided directly with test kits in the same way as nurseries, primary schools etc. From 16 August children under the age of 18 years and 6 months need no longer self-isolate if contacting by NHS Test and Trace or living with someone as a close contact but will be recommended to get a PCT test immediately - self-isolation still applies to anyone who tests positive or has symptoms of coronavirus.

There is additional, detailed guidance supporting early years providers, which includes all aspects of delivery, including testing, below.

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak

Transport to schools and colleges for the 2020-2021 academic year: The Department of Education has provided guidance for local authorities and providers of dedicated transport to schools, colleges, special schools and other education providers. This concerns all providers of dedicated transport, whether delivered by local authority, schools, or parent groups.

The guidance covers the various arrangements that local authorities and schools can put in place and identifies the measures that should be considered to provide safe, Covid secure transport, including:

·       social distancing,

·       the wearing of face coverings and PPE,

·       hygiene and cleaning regimes,

·       ventilation,

·       rules for those testing positive, and

·       asymptomatic testing, either via workplace testing or through the universal rapid lateral flow tests open to anyone in England who does not have symptoms of coronavirus.

From 19 July 2021 travel in bubbles is no longer necessary and although the wearing of face masks/coverings is no longer a legal requirement on public transport, the Government expects and recommends that face coverings should still be worn on public transport and on dedicated school transport. Schools should have outbreak plans in place.

Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus outbreak

This guidance is for providers and staff of out-of-school activities, tuition, holiday clubs and breakfast and after-school clubs. It includes providers of extra-curricular activities, clubs or child carers before and after school, at weekends or outside term-time, including youth services and anyone registered with Ofsted's childcare register. The guidance identifies the protective measures all providers should have in place.

From 19 July 2021 providers can offer their services to all age-groups of children without restrictions (bubbles are no longer necessary but could be reintroduced at a local level depending upon local circumstances). Infection control is imperative (hygiene, cleaning, ventilation and regular asymptomatic LFD testing, which is recommended throughout the summer). Children, young people, staff and other adults must stay away if they have symptoms of coronavirus and get a PCR test as soon as possible. This includes after having a positive LFD test. Similarly, household members should also book a PCR test if they develop symptoms. This also applies to anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

From 16 August, self-isolation is not required for children under 18 years and 6 months or adults who are fully vaccinated.  Others will need to self-isolate for 10 days. The guidance for providers gives full details on all aspects of prevention and testing.

Similar guidance  has also now been introduced for parents and carers of children who attend after-school clubs, holiday clubs, tuition, community activities and other out-of-school settings for children over the age of 5. This covers the same issues as the topics covered in the guidance for providers, including testing, isolation and the use of face coverings and other protective measures, and covers educational and international visits.

Quarantine and testing arrangements for students from red list countries

This guidance is for owners and managers of boarding schools in relation to students travelling to attend a boarding school in England who meet the UK entry requirements and have travelled from or through a ‘red list’ country in the previous 10 days. These students should follow the guidance on international travel and quarantine in accommodation provided by the boarding school. These students will be UK or Irish nationals or have the right to reside in the UK.

Students must have a negative test within the 3 days before they travel and must purchase a travel test package, which will include coronavirus (COVID-19) tests to be taken on day 2 and day 8 of their quarantine. The guidance provides full details of the requirements and includes link to book the travel test package and passenger locator form. Students travelling from or through red list countries are not eligible for the Travel to Release scheme.

From 4am Monday 4 October 2021, the rules for international travel to England will change from the red, amber, green traffic light system to a single red list of countries and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world. The rules for travel from countries and territories not on the red list will depend on your vaccination status.

If you arrive in England before 4 October, you must follow the current rules outlined below. This means you must book and take any COVID-19 tests you need and follow the quarantine rules that are in place at the time you arrive in England.

This section contains testing information on the following:

International travel from England

Testing for people travelling to England

Test to Release

Guidance on safer air travel and jobs that qualify for travel exemptions

Quarantine and testing upon arrival in England (the travel test package*)

Booking and staying in a managed quarantine hotel

Bespoke testing regime for international travellers arriving in England who are exempt from quarantine

Testing for road hauliers

International travel from England

From 19 July 2021, international travel is now permitted to green and amber list countries, including for leisure purposes. You should not travel to red list countries.

Transport operators are required to ensure that passengers travelling from England by sea, air or rail to destinations outside of the Common Travel Area (CTA) - the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, are provided with public health information on the relevant testing, quarantine and documentation that applies to their travel arrangements.  This should be done at four stages (at the booking stage; at check-in stage, be notified between 24 and 48 hours prior to departure from England, and on board the vessel, train or aircraft). Where a third party, such as a travel agent, manages the travel process, operators must show that they have taken reasonable steps to ensure the information is provided by the third party concerned.

Anyone travelling abroad needs to be aware of any travel restrictions relating to the country(ies) they need to travel to, including whether a negative test for coronavirus is required or proof of vaccinations.  Where proof of a negative test is required, this should be done through a private test provider. The guidance provides the relevant information and links for preparing to travel abroad, including the latest travel advice and what you need to do if you are returning to England.

A negative test, taken 3 days (72 hrs) before travelling is required in all cases where the destination is outside the Common Travel Area.  Upon return from green list countries a passenger locator form and a test on day 2 is required. 

Upon return from amber list countries a passenger locator form, 10 days quarantine at home (or full length of stay if less than 10 days) and a test on or before both days 2 and 8 are required.

Passengers from amber list countries who are not fully vaccinated are eligible for the Test to Release scheme on day 5 (see section below). Passengers returning from amber list countries who have been fully UK vaccinated (two jabs plus 14 days), are not required to take the day 8 test nor are they required to self-isolate unless their day 2 test is positive.  From 8 August 2021 this also applies to those fully vaccinated from the USA and Europe.

Passengers from red list countries must complete the passenger locator form and book the full managed quarantine package (passage via a designated port, quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days, with tests on day 2 and day 8, and ineligible for the Test to Release scheme).

From 17 May, for international travel and other purposes, people who live in England will be able to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status to others, as proof of having received the full course of 2 doses of any approved vaccine - this is now called the NHS COVID Pass. This can be in:

·         digital form, either via the NHS website (you must log in) or by using the NHS app (which is free but different to the COVID app)

·         or in paper form, by requesting a letter via NHS.UK website or by calling the NHS helpline at 119 and requesting a letter.

You should wait at least 5 working days after receiving your second dose before calling 119 and expect the letter to take up to 7 working days to reach you.

There is additional guidance for if you cannot get an NHS COVID pass letter, which includes a BSL video about what to do if you cannot get a post-vaccination letter has now been added to the website. You should always check the Gov.UK foreign travel advice pages to see which countries may be requesting proof of vaccination or other requirements, such as testing, to travel abroad. It is anticipated that, soon, the NHS app will show test results in addition to your vaccination status.

​​​​​​

Testing for people travelling to England

Anyone travelling to England from outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, the Channels Islands and the Isle of Man) including UK citizens/nationals returning home, must present a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours (3 days) prior to departure. The negative test certificate, which must be the original, must be in English, French or Spanish. Passengers are required to submit a passenger locator form and will be subject to any local or national lockdown restrictions that are in place where they are staying.

This testing requirement applies to all arrivals, whether by boat, train, or plane. Failure to provide proof of a negative test could lead to an on-the-spot fine of £500. All tests relating to international travel must be arranged through private providers on the UK.Gov website and should not use the UK. Gov national testing portal, which is reserved for people who have symptoms of coronavirus and need to have a test.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): testing for people travelling to England.

Transport operators are required to ensure that passengers travelling to England by sea, air or rail are provided with information about coronavirus, related duties and public health guidance. This includes all the relevant information around testing. Travel operators must provide, or take reasonable steps to ensure information is provided, at four stages of a traveller’s journey to England:

  • at the booking stage
  • at check-in
  • notification at 24-48 hrs prior to departure to UK and
  • onboard the vessel, train, aircraft.

The UK has introduced red, amber and green list rules for entering England. Different rules apply, with red being the strictest, depending on which country has been travelled through or from in the past 10 days. The strictest rules of the countries you have been through apply even if you have only spent a short time in that country compared to your stay in a country with less strict rules, in the last 10 days.

Travelling from or through only green listed countries means taking a COVID-19 test prior to departure (up to 72 hrs before – children aged 10 or under are exempt), booking a day 2 test and completing a passenger locator form. Upon arrival in England travellers do not need to quarantine but must do so if their day 2 test is positive.

Anyone arriving in or returning to England from an amber list country must take a COVID-19 test prior to departure (up to 72 hrs before), book their test package (for day 2 and, depending on their circumstances (see below) day 8 testing) in England after their arrival, and complete a passenger locator form.

Travellers from amber list countries who can demonstrate they are fully vaccinated (two jabs plus 14 days), which they must declare on their passenger locator form and show proof of when they travel, do not need to quarantine. They must take the pre-departure and day 2 test but are exempt from the day 8 test. Vaccinations from the UK, overseas UK programme and approved vaccinations from the USA and EU (plus Norway, Switzerland, Monaco and a few other European countries) are valid for demonstrating full vaccination status. If the day 2 test is positive, then they must quarantine for 10 days. See the COVID Pass section (please link to this) below to find out more about proof of vaccinations.

Travellers from amber list countries who have not been fully vaccinated must quarantine for 10 days and follow the full testing programme (tests on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of quarantine). Anyone staying less than 10 days must quarantine for the length of their stay. People must travel directly to their place of quarantine (home, hotel, friends and family) upon arrival. Travellers from amber list countries who have not been fully vaccinated can opt to take part in the Test to Release scheme, which allows them to pay for an extra test after 5 days of quarantine, which, if negative, allows them to leave quarantine.

Only British or Irish nationals or anyone with residence rights in the UK are permitted to travel from countries on the red (travel ban) list. They must take a COVID-19 test prior to departure (up to 72 hrs before), book their quarantine package (transport to and stay in a managed quarantine hotel and testing on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine) in England after their arrival, and complete a passenger locator form. This applies regardless of vaccination status. Anyone arriving from a red list country is not eligible for the Test to Release scheme.

The table below provides a summary of the testing and quarantine rules for travelling from or through red, amber or green list countries.

Measure

Green

Amber (fully vaccinated)

Amber (not vaccinated)

Red

Passenger Locator Form

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Pre-departure test

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Managed quarantine at hotel

No

No

No

10 days

Self-isolation at own accommodation

No

No (unless test positive on day 2)

10 days

N/A

Test to Release

N/A

N/A

On day 5

No

PCR Testing

On or before day 2

On or before day 2

On or before day 2

On or before day 2

Further PCR Testing

No

No

Day 8

Day 8

 

Test to Release

Anyone arriving in England from an amber list country who is unable to demonstrate they are fully vaccinated (with valid UK, USA or Europe vaccinations) must isolate for a period of 10 days.

However, they will have the option to take a test after 5 days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to isolate. This applies to British citizens returning from abroad and to foreign travellers.

The test must be done through a private testing provider (see the list of providers meeting Govt. standards below) and travellers should book a test before they travel and must complete a passenger locator form. (There is more information and guidance for private testing providers in the Test and Trace section).

For those countries with a travel ban to the UK, only returning UK nationals will be allowed to enter the country, but they will not be eligible for the Travel to Release scheme and must isolate for the whole of the 10 day period.

All private test providers must now visit the UKAS website to begin their accreditation process before they can self-declare and operate as a test provider, accessible via the link above.

NHS COVID Pass

Proof of your vaccination status can be demonstrated by the NHS COVID Pass. You can access your NHS COVID Pass through the free NHS App on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Proof of your COVID-19 status will be shown within the NHS App. It can also be downloaded from the NHS website to print or in pdf form or a paper copy requested via the NHS website or via 119.

The COVID Pass can be used to for international travel (for business and leisure travel, including road hauliers) and for gaining entry to venues within England who have chosen to use the COVID pass to monitor entry to their venues.

Guidance on safer air travel and jobs that qualify for travel exemptions

The Government has also provided detailed guidance for passengers travelling by air to England. This includes information on the need to have a negative test before travelling and the reasons people should not travel. These are as follows:

  • if anyone is experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus or has done so in the last 7 days;
  • is self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus;
  • or is sharing a house with someone who has experienced these symptoms in the last 10 days.

In addition, you should not travel if you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate.

The guidance covers all stages of air travel, from booking the flight to arrival and remaining in England.

The government has also identified the jobs that qualify for travel exemptions, which means they can be exempt from taking a test, self-isolating and/or completing a passenger locator form. The guidance lists the jobs that qualify for exemption from one or all of these elements.

Nurses from red list countries coming to take up NHS employment have been added to the exempt jobs list. Additional guidance has been provided to NHS Trusts on the management of nurses from red list countries, who must quarantine for 10 days.

However, from 6 April 2021 many of the jobs that qualify for travel exemption are now expected to complete a travel locator form and/or undertake bespoke testing (see section below), which requires tests within 2 days, 5 days and 8 days. People whose jobs are on the exempt list who reside in the UK may not be required to self-isolate, but non-residents will need to self-isolate in their accommodation, apart from when they are undertaking the exempt activity/job or travelling to or from it. These rules differ depending on the exempt activity/job being undertaken and detail for each of these is identified in the guidance.

There is also some safer travel guidance for passengers travelling both within the UK and abroad when using any mode of transport, including private vehicles, taxi’s, public transport and cycling and walking, with particular information concerning national lockdown measures and how use of the COVID-19 app can support any necessary travel. The guidance has been updated to include guidance on how to travel to and from a coronavirus test site and the importance of not travelling when you have symptoms of coronavirus.

The guidance provides comprehensive information on travelling both in the UK and abroad, including the guidance for people arriving in the UK.  It also covers the current testing arrangements for international travel.

Quarantine and testing upon arrival in England (the travel test package*)

 

Everyone arriving in or returning to England from an amber list country who cannot demonstrate they are fully vaccinated must quarantine for 10 days, take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test on* day 2 and day 8 of quarantine. People must travel directly to their place of quarantine (home, hotel, friends and family) upon arrival (those who arrive from a country from which travel to the UK is banned must quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel).

The travel test package costs £210 and must be booked using the Corporate Travel Management (CTM) booking portal, which is accessible via the guidance. Anyone testing positive from the day 2 or day 8 tests must quarantine for a further 10 days (anyone testing positive after the day 2 test does not need to take a further test). Failure to take these tests may incur a penalty of £2,000.

People in quarantine can opt for the test to release scheme (after 5 days of quarantine - see Test to Release above) except those in a managed quarantine facility, who have arrived from a country on the travel ban list.

In addition, the government has introduced self-isolation compliance checks on individuals who have a legal duty to self-isolate for 10 days following international travel.  Such individuals will be contacted daily by NHS Test and Trace and may receive a visit from someone employed by NHS Test and Trace who will ask various questions and may conduct follow-up visits. They will have no enforcements powers but may refer cases to the police if they believe breaches are taking place. See the full guidance here

Booking and staying in a managed quarantine hotel

Separate guidance is in place for anyone arriving from (visited or passed through) a country on the travel ban (or red) list. Only British or Irish nationals or anyone with residence rights in the UK are permitted to travel from countries on the travel ban list. They must quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel, which they should pre-book using the quarantine hotel package booking portal (which includes the travel test package and transport to the quarantine hotel and can be accessed in the guidance). The only exceptions to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel are for nurses recruited to work directly in the NHS from overseas, students studying at a university or limited exceptions on medical or compassionate grounds (see below).

The managed quarantine period is for 10 days (the same quarantine period as people arriving from non-red list countries) but stricter rules apply on arrival in England and transferring to the quarantine hotel. Test results (from the day 2 and day 8 tests) must be shown when leaving a managed quarantine hotel.

For further guidance see managed quarantine: what to expect and exemptions from managed quarantine for medical and compassionate reasons, which is new guidance that identifies the extremely limited exemptions that it is possible to apply for to be exempt from entering managed quarantine. This guidance also identifies the support available to people in managed quarantine, including support from a family member where this is needed.   

Only 6 airports in the UK are currently permitted to receive arrivals on a managed quarantine package. Penalties of £4,000 (for not arranging a managed quarantine package) and £10,000 (each, for not providing accurate details of the countries you visited; for breaking quarantine rules; for not arriving at one of the designated ports of entry) are in place in relation to managed quarantine regulations.

The Govt. has also provided additional guidance for the minimum standards that private providers must meet for providing the day 2 and day 8 tests for international travel and guidance on which private test providers may be able to provide these tests.

Bespoke testing regime for international travellers arriving in England who are exempt from quarantine

From 6 April 2021, international arrivals from outside the Common Travel Area (the UK, Ireland, Channel Isles and Isle of Man) who are exempt from quarantine due to the job they do, must take part in bespoke LFD asymptomatic testing, by doing one of the following:

 

·       via their workplace,

·       a local authority run community asymptomatic testing site

·       via a home test kit ordered online or by calling119, or

·       collected via a community testing site.

A passenger locator form is required but as bespoke tests cannot be booked in advance the test booking reference is not required on the passenger locator form.

Anyone qualifying for bespoke testing (rather having to quarantine), if staying in England for longer than 2 days, will need to take a test on or before day 2, between day 3 and 5 and between day 6 and 8. This applies equally to cabin crew if they have spent any time in areas accessible to passengers (only active domestic sea fishers and foreign diplomats do not have to undertake bespoke testing). People travelling every day or often should take a lateral flow test every 3 days.

The guidance on bespoke testing regimes also covers the testing requirements for people working on offshore installations. Anyone testing positive will be required to self-isolate for a period of 10 days and get a confirmatory PCR test, which will be genome sequenced for COVID-19 variant surveillance.

In addition, employer testing duty guidance has been introduced for employers, who must take reasonable steps to facilitate the taking of tests by their employees who travel regularly. This applies to employers with more than 50 employees, many or all of whom regularly travel across UK borders and are eligible, therefore, to participate in a bespoke testing regime (or if not exempt, for quarantine and testing).

Such employers have a duty to inform and communicate the testing available, either through their own workplace testing or the supply of home testing kits, or by signposting and supporting access to testing outside the workplace. This guidance also relates to employers of seasonal agricultural workers, who should ensure employees are supported to access testing without leaving the farm.

Testing for road hauliers

All drivers and crew of HGVs, LGVs and vans from anywhere in the UK (and international road hauliers) must provide proof of an authorised negative COVID-19 test taken before leaving the UK, if they are going to or passing through Germany and will be there longer than 72 hours.

Free Covid-19 testing (using lateral flow devices) is available to drivers and crew at a range of haulier advice site locations across the country. Drivers and crew are encouraged to get a test early in their journey to avoid a build-up of congestion at ports in Kent and around the country.

International road hauliers arriving in England from abroad will need to get a Covid-19 test if they are staying in England for more than 2 days. They need to take the first test within the first 2 days, then further tests every 3 days. This will apply to drivers and crews of HGVs and drivers of vans and other light goods vehicles and to both UK-based and non-UK hauliers.

Different rules, however, apply to hauliers covered by green list rules or hauliers from amber list countries who are fully vaccinated, as they are only required to take the day 2 test and do not need to isolate in their cab. Valid full vaccinations are those from the UK, EU countries and Switzerland. Vaccine status must be declared on the passenger locator form and proof provided. Otherwise the main testing rules continue to apply. Hauliers can use the NHS COVID Pass or the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC) to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status. 

Tests can be taken at haulier testing sites, via workplace testing, at community testing sites, at home or through a paid, private testing service. Anyone testing positive must self-isolate for 10 days, either at home or with family/friends (who must also self-isolate) or, if nowhere to reside in the UK, at a hotel which will be provided. All who test positive must take a free PCR confirmatory test within 48 hours.

Tests are not required for hauliers who are staying in England for less than 2 days or who have arrived from the Common Travel Area (CTA - UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) and have not been outside this area in the 10 days before arriving in England. Any haulier unable to provide proof of a negative test may be fined up to £2,000.

Additional guidance has also been provided that identifies the COVID-19 rules for safer behaviour for hauliers making international journeys.

Anyone requesting a PCR/swab test because they have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) could be sent a testing kit to their home address or directed to a Government established drive-through or walk-through testing site. Drive-through test sites are Regional Testing Centres, with a limited number of these test sites in each region of the country. Walk-through test sites are part of an expanding network of Local Testing Solutions, designed to be in more accessible, local venues. Appointments are needed for both types of testing sites, booked using the online portal or via 119.

It is also possible that you may be directed to a temporary testing facility – these include mobile testing units operated by the Ministry of Defence which are available in the local area to increase capacity where needed. 

They are usually only in any location for a few days and move around the locality in response to need.

If you are directed to a drive-through testing centre this is likely to be the facility nearest your location. You will be provided with instructions on where to attend and how to go through the testing facility. There will be rules laid down for you to follow for your own safety, the safety of any passengers and the safety of the staff providing the test.

However, the following rules will always apply: 

  • You must arrive on site by car – you cannot take a bus, taxi or arrive by foot
  • You must remain in your car at all times with the windows up until told otherwise
  • When you arrive, you will need to confirm your name and date of birth. Please leave your car windows closed
  • The test involves a throat and nose swab and the trained staff will give you directions for this and the next steps at the time.

You will also be provided with a set of instructions when directed to a Local Testing Solution walk-through test site, which should be followed for your safety and the safety of others. Walk-through sites tend to provide throat and nose swab kits for you to use yourself as the main method of testing. This may be supplemented by other methods of testing when these have been piloted successfully.

The location of Regional Testing Centres and Local Testing Solution test sites can be found in the Testing Location section below.

If you are directed to a Mobile Testing Unit, you will also be given instructions to follow but, as these are temporary units, you will usually have to undertake the swab test yourself.

The majority of lateral flow testing for people who are symptom-free (asymptomatic) takes place at test sites in a range of community settings such as universities, schools, care homes and workplaces. Some are also available in designated community sites that are easily accessible, such as Council buildings. Testing at all these sites is assisted: you will swab yourself under the supervision of a trained operator who then processes the test and reads the result.

Most of these sites do not require an appointment; staff, vulnerable groups and others eligible for these tests are notified and once notified, you are able to turn up at a test site at your convenience (bearing in mind test sites have opening hours). Although booking an appointment is not necessary, once at a test site registration is required. Symptom-free testing is a continuous process and to ensure you do not unknowingly have/spread the virus, testing is done on a weekly or twice weekly basis.


Testing locations

Tests are only available with an appointment – once these are made, people will receive the full addresses and information on the testing sites. Anyone arriving without an appointment will be turned away.

If you have chosen to use a home test kit you can return it using a Royal Mail priority post-box. You can check where your nearest priority post-box is to see whether you can use this facility.

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ
  • On-site Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust 
  • Local Testing Solutions (LTS) walk through test sites: UCLan Berkeley Street, Preston PR1 7ET, Leyland Civic Centre Car Park PR25 1DH, Woodlands Conference Centre, Southport Road, Chorley, PR7 1QR

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ - via self-referral or employer referral
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team, all others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits) 
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral.
  • Local Testing Solutions (LTS) walk through test sites: UCLan Berkeley Street, Preston PR1 7ET, Leyland Civic Centre Car Park PR25 1DH, Woodlands Conference Centre, Southport Road, Chorley, PR7 1QR

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ - via self-referral or (for staff in isolation) employer referral
  • Mobile unit (with the Army)
  • Home testing kits.
  • Local Testing Solutions (LTS) walk through test sites: UCLan Berkeley Street, Preston PR1 7ET, Leyland Civic Centre Car Park PR25 1DH, Woodlands Conference Centre, Southport Road, Chorley, PR7 1QR

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can attend the following to get a PCR test.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ - via self-referral
  • Home testing kits (if available).
  • Local Testing Solutions (LTS) walk through test sites: UCLan Berkeley Street, Preston PR1 7ET, Leyland Civic Centre Car Park PR25 1DH, Woodlands Conference Centre, Southport Road, Chorley, PR7 1QR

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, PR5 4AR
  • On-site Blackpool Victoria Hospital staff and patients.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: South Car Park, Yeadon Way, Blackpool, FY1 6AA, Fairhaven Road Car Park, South Promenade, St Annes On Sea, FY8 1NN, Albert Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6AH

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, PR5 4AR
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team
  • All others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits)
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: South Car Park, Yeadon Way, Blackpool, FY1 6AA, Fairhaven Road Car Park, South Promenade, St Annes On Sea, FY8 1NN, Albert Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6AH

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, PR5 4AR
  • Home testing kits if available).
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: South Car Park, Yeadon Way, Blackpool, FY1 6AA, Fairhaven Road Car Park, South Promenade, St Annes On Sea, FY8 1NN, Albert Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6AH

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can attend the following.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, PR5 4AR
  • Home testing kits if available.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: South Car Park, Yeadon Way, Blackpool, FY1 6AA, Fairhaven Road Car Park, South Promenade, St Annes On Sea, FY8 1NN, Albert Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6AH

 

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff via employer referral) - Caton Park and Ride, Carlisle Lake District Airport, Whitehaven
  • Community outreach (from the trust) for non-drivers/homes
  • On-site UHMB Hospitals Trust staff and patients.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Nelson Street Car Park, Nelson Street, Lancaster, LA1 1PT, Town Hall Courtyard  on Cornwallis Street, Barrow, LA14 2LG, Car park off Busher Walk Kendal LA9 4RQ

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-through (staff via employer referral) - Caton Park and Ride, Carlisle Lake District Airport, Whitehaven
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team
  • All others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits)
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Nelson Street Car Park, Nelson Street, Lancaster, LA1 1PT, Town Hall Courtyard  on Cornwallis Street, Barrow, LA14 2LG, Car park off Busher Walk Kendal LA9 4RQ

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

         Drive-through: Caton Park and Ride

         Mobile Testing units

         Home testing kits (if available).

  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Nelson Street Car Park, Nelson Street, Lancaster, LA1 1PT, Town Hall Courtyard  on Cornwallis Street, Barrow, LA14 2LG, Car park off Busher Walk Kendal LA9 4RQ

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can apply for a coronavirus test - this includes previously indentified categories such as people aged over 65, anyone who cannot work from home and Local Authority staff.

         Drive-through: Caton Park and Ride

  • Home testing kits (if available).
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Nelson Street Car Park, Nelson Street, Lancaster, LA1 1PT, Town Hall Courtyard  on Cornwallis Street, Barrow, LA14 2LG, Car park off Busher Walk Kendal LA9 4RQ

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble, Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ
  • On-site East Lancashire Hospitals Trust staff and patients;
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test sites: ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson, BB9 7NN, Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accrington BB5 1AP,  ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson BB9 7NN; Centenary Way, Burnley BB11 2EQ; Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accington BB5 1AP; Edisford Road Car Park, Clitheroe BB7 3LA; Blackburn College Car Park, Nabb Lane BB2 1LN and Railway Road Car Park, Darwen BB3 3BU.

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral or employer referral
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team
  • All others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits)
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral. 
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk through test sites: ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson, BB9 7NN, Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accrington BB5 1AP ​​​​; ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson BB9 7NN; Centenary Way, Burnley BB11 2EQ; Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accington BB5 1AP; Edisford Road Car Park, Clitheroe BB7 3LA; Blackburn College Car Park, Nabb Lane BB2 1LN and Railway Road Car Park, Darwen BB3 3BU.

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral or (for staff in isolation) employer referral
  • Mobile unit (with the Army)
  • Home testing kits; 
  • LTS walk through test sites: ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson, BB9 7NN, Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accrington BB5 1AP ​​​​​​,  ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson BB9 7NN; Centenary Way, Burnley BB11 2EQ; Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accington BB5 1AP; Edisford Road Car Park, Clitheroe BB7 3LA; Blackburn College Car Park, Nabb Lane BB2 1LN and Railway Road Car Park, Darwen BB3 3BU.

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can attend the following.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral
  • Home testing kits (if available)
  • LTS walk through sites: ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson, BB9 7NN, Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accrington BB5 1AP, ; ACE Centre, Cross Street Nelson BB9 7NN; Centenary Way, Burnley BB11 2EQ; Eastgate Car Park, Dowry Street, Accington BB5 1AP; Edisford Road Car Park, Clitheroe BB7 3LA; Blackburn College Car Park, Nabb Lane BB2 1LN and Railway Road Car Park, Darwen BB3 3BU.

NHS workers and patients - including primary care - All NHS workers and patients, with or without coronavirus symptoms. (This includes all frontline NHS staff in contact with patients, including volunteers).

  • Drive-through (staff): South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ
  • On-site Southport and Ormskirk Hospital staff and patients.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Westgate Car Park, Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale WN8 8LJ; Edge Hill Sport Tennis Courts, Edge Hill University L39 4QP (Department for Education facility)

Social Care staff and Care Homes - Any care home staff or residents, with or without coronavirus symptoms Includes adult social care staff in care homes, domiciliary staff and unpaid carers - does not include non-symptomatic patients being cared for in their own home

  • Drive-in (staff): South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral or employer referral
  • Residents: new outbreaks via Local Health Protection Team
  • All others via Care Home Testing Portal (for testing kits)
  • Residents in own homes via self-referral, NHS 111 online or GP referral.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Westgate Car Park, Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale WN8 8LJ; Edge Hill Sport Tennis Courts, Edge Hill University L39 4QP (Department for Education facility)

Essential workers with symptoms (priority above others listed below) - All essential workers including Police, Fire Service, Supermarket staff, Transport workers etc.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR  Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral or (for staff in isolation) employer referral
  • Mobile unit (with the Army)
  • Home testing kits.
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Westgate Car Park, Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale WN8 8LJ; Edge Hill Sport Tennis Courts, Edge Hill University L39 4QP (Department for Education facility)

Anyone over 5 years of age with symptoms - Any over 5 years of age with symptoms who does not fall into the categories listed above can attend the following.

  • Drive-through: South Ribble Walton-le-Dale Park and Ride, Preston PR5 4AR, Old Bank Lane Blackburn BB1 2PW, or Haydock Park WH12 0HQ via self-referral
  • Home testing kits (if available).
  • Local Testing Solution (LTS) walk-through test site: Westgate Car Park, Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale WN8 8LJ; Edge Hill Sport Tennis Courts, Edge Hill University L39 4QP (Department for Education facility)


People who have chosen to use home test kits can return them using a Royal Mail priority post-box. You can check where your nearest priority post-box is to see whether you can use this facility.

The Government has released a policy paper identifying its priorities for swab testing going forward. These priorities accord with the approach already being taken across Lancashire and South Cumbria.

1.    Patients in hospital, including patients with symptoms, patients in critical care, admissions, and patients being discharged,

2.    People in care homes (staff, residents and new admissions),

3.    NHS staff, including GPs and pharmacists where possible (symptomatic testing takes precedence),

4.    Targeted testing to manage outbreaks and surveillance;

5.    Teaching staff with symptoms,

6.    The general public when they have symptoms, prioritising those in areas of high incidence.

The top priorities are people who either have Covid-19 now or are most at risk of doing so – patients in hospital and those living and working in care homes. People in these settings are both vulnerable and in locations where contracting the virus carries the greatest threat if it spreads.  Similarly, NHS staff are the next priority due to the need to protect them as individuals and to sustain the care and treatment of all patients, both those with Covid-19 and those with other health.

Allocating of coronavirus (Covid-19) swab tests in England.

Accessibility tools

Return to header