While the restrictions are now removed, and most testing reduced, the pandemic is not over. The public should continue to follow the updated public health guidance to protect themselves and others, particularly those who may become seriously ill if infected with COVID-19.
See guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19 - GOV.UK
Free LFTs won't be available to most members of the public from 1 April, except for the over-75s and over-12s with weakened immune systems. People who are eligible for community Covid drug treatments because they're at higher risk if they catch Covid will be sent LFTs to keep at home in case they develop symptoms.
Those that are eligible for free testing can order LFT tests.
Most people with symptoms won't be entitled to free PCR tests either. They will be able to buy LFT kits from high street pharmacies.
From 1 April only the following groups will be eligible for tests:
- Patients in hospital, where a PCR test is required for their care and to provide access to treatments and to support ongoing clinical surveillance for new variants
- People who are eligible for community COVID-19 treatments because they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. People in this group will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow tests to keep at home for use if they have symptoms as well as being told how to reorder tests.
- People living or working in some high-risk settings
For example, staff in adult social care services such as homecare organisations and care homes, and residents in care homes and extra care and supported living services, NHS workers and those working and living in hospices, prisons and places of detention (including immigration removal centres), where infection needs to be identified quickly to minimise outbreaks. People will be tested before being discharged from hospital into care homes and hospices.
Asymptomatic lateral flow testing will continue from April in some high-risk settings where infection can spread rapidly while prevalence is high.
This includes patient-facing staff in the NHS and NHS-commissioned Independent Healthcare Providers, staff in hospices and adult social care services, such as homecare organisations and care homes, a small number of care home visitors who provide personal care, staff in some prisons and places of detention and in high risk domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings.
In addition, testing will be provided for residential SEND, care home staff and residents during an outbreak and for care home residents upon admission. This includes some staff in prisons and immigration removal centres.
See updated COVID-19 symptoms in both adults and children.
Stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you test positive
If you have COVID-19 you can infect other people from 2 days before your symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after. You can pass on the infection to others, even if you have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. If you have COVID-19 the public health advice is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.