Access to testing

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As part of the Government's next steps in the Living with COVID-19 Plan, from 1 April free testing for the general public will end.

Free COVID-19 tests will continue to be available to help protect specific groups including patients in hospital, people eligible for COVID-19 treatments (you will be contacted directly), along with NHS and adult social care staff and those in other high-risk settings.

Where to get lateral flow tests

Free testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) from the NHS has ended for most people in England. Free testing services have closed at:

  • pharmacies
  • test sites
  • community collection points such as libraries
  • schools, nurseries and universities

If you still want to get tested and you're not eligible for a free NHS test, COVID-19 tests are now available to buy yourself. You can buy a COVID-19 test from some pharmacies and retailers, in person or online using the links below:

Do not call 119, as you will not be able to get a test this way. You cannot order tests from NHS 111 or 999. For more information on the latest changes to testing, visit the NHS Changes to testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) in England webpage.

What to do once you have your lateral flow test results

If you do test positive for COVID-19, despite the change in restrictions, it's advised you try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days, when you are most infectious to help protect yourself and others.

If you test negative for COVID-19, you should continue to follow the preventative public health guidance and safety behaviours for stopping the spread of the virus:

  • Get vaccinated and get boosted - for more information on COVID-19 Vaccination in Surrey, visit the Surrey Heartlands COVID-19 Vaccinations webpage. To book or manage your COVID-19 vaccination or booster, visit the NHS Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination webpage.
  • Let the fresh air in - opening your windows for just 10 minutes can make a difference to the concentration of COVID-19 particles in a room
  • Wear a face covering - in crowded and enclosed spaces, and when rates of transmission are high in your area
  • Wash your hands - use soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
  • Cover your mouth and nose - when you cough and sneeze, remember "Catch it, Bin it, Kill it"
  • Try to stay at home if you are unwell - to reduce the risk of passing on other illnesses onto friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community
  • Consider individual risks - when deciding who you have close contact with, consider the persons clinical vulnerabilities and vaccination status

Anyone with a respiratory infection, anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or those who have a high temperature or feel unwell including children and young people, should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature.

NHS COVID-19 testing information

For additional information on COVID-19 testing, visit the NHS Testing for coronavirus webpage.

Useful guidance and information

Following the latest steps in the plan for Living with COVID-19, the Government have published the below guidance:

From 1 April

For the latest published guidance, visit the GOV.UK Latest updates and guidance webpage.

From 24 February

  • if you test positive for COVID-19 you will no longer be legally required to self-isolate – therefore self-isolation support payments of £500 for those on low incomes will no longer be available
  • the recommendation to stay at home for at least five full days following a positive COVID-19 test result to help protect yourself and others. During these days you're most infectious from the virus
  • routine contact tracing has come to an end, which also means fully vaccinated close contacts of positive cases and those aged under 18 no longer have to legally test for seven days
  • staff and workers will no longer be required to tell their employer if they need to self-isolate - the company or organisation you work for may impose their own conditions

From 21 February

Other domestic restrictions removed following the release of the Government's Living with COVID-19 plan includes:

  • staff and students in schools and most education and childcare settings no longer having to test twice weekly

More official health advice and information can be found in the Official health information section further below, and on the GOV.UK Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread webpage.