Testing for COVID-19

Free PCR and lateral flow testing ended for most people on 1 April 2022. Free COVID-19 tests will still be available to certain groups of people, such as those at serious risk of illness from COVID and NHS staff caring directly for patients.

Who is eligible for free COVID-19 tests?

Government guidance currently includes the following groups as eligible for free tests:

  • Hospital patients where a PCR test is required for their care
  • NHS staff and staff working in NHS-funded independent healthcare provision
  • Adult social care staff in care homes, homecare organisations, extra care and supported living settings and adult day care centres
  • Care home residents and those in extra care and supported living settings (test supplied by the care setting)
  • Hospice staff and patients (tests supplied by the hospice)
  • Prison and detention centre staff and detainees (tests supplied by the detention premises)
  • Immigration removal centre staff and detainees (tests supplied by the organisation concerned)
  • Staff and users of high-risk domestic abuse refuges or homelessness settings.

Where to buy COVID-19 tests

If you are not eligible for free COVID-19 tests, lateral flow and PCR tests will be widely available to buy from supermarkets and pharmacies.

COVID-19 symptoms or positive tests

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive, current advice is to self isolate for 5 days, or until your symptoms subside.

How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?

  • Get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to protect yourself against the virus and can help stop the spread.
  • Wear a face covering, especially in busy, indoor areas. Wearing a face covering reduces the spread of coronavirus.
  • Practice caution when visiting vulnerable friends and relatives, and for best protection wear a face covering. See more on when to wear a face covering and what makes a good one.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Social distance where possible.
  • Isolate if you have COVID symptoms or have tested positive.

For more information, see COVID-19 Response - Living with COVID-19 - GOV.UK.