COVID-19 testing

Free testing for the public ended on 1 April 2022 as part of the government’s Living with COVID plan, but asymptomatic testing continued to be used in some settings during periods of high case rates.

End of regular asymptomatic testing

Regular asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 in all remaining settings in England was paused from 31 August 2022, as COVID-19 cases continue to fall. However, the government will keep the situation under review.

Individuals will continue to be protected through vaccination and access to antivirals where eligible. The government continues to encourage all who are eligible to take up COVID-19 boosters. Autumn boosters will be available to book through the National Booking Service ahead of the wider rollout, due to start on 12 September 2022.

Settings where asymptomatic testing of staff and patients or residents has been paused include:

  • The NHS (including independent healthcare providers treating NHS patients)
  • Adult social care and hospice services (apart from new admissions)
  • Parts of the prison estate and some places of detention
  • Certain domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings

Exemptions

Testing will remain in place for admissions into care homes and hospices from both hospitals and the community, and for transfers for immunocompromised patients into and within hospital to protect those who are most vulnerable.

Testing will also be available for outbreaks in certain high-risk settings such as care homes.

Year-round symptomatic testing will also continue to be provided in some settings, including:

  • NHS patients who require testing as part of established clinical pathways or those eligible for COVID-19 treatments
  • NHS staff and staff in NHS-funded independent healthcare provision
  • Staff in adult social care services and hospices and residents of care homes, extra care and supported living settings and hospices
  • Staff and detainees in prisons
  • Staff and service users of certain domestic abuse refuges and homelessness services

Find out more information about the pause of regular asymptomatic testing.