The government has confirmed that twice-weekly rapid Covid-19 tests will be made available to all in England from Friday 9th April.
Lateral flow tests, which provide results in 30 minutes, will be accessible to everyone in England as lockdown measures ease. It is hoped that offering free regular tests will help to suppress outbreaks quickly and enable the economy to open further without increasing risks of the virus spreading. The news comes as England prepares to enter the next phase of easing restrictions on April 12th. If guidelines are approved, non-essential retail and personal care, including hairdressing salons and barber’s shops, will reopen on Monday 12th.
The Cabinet met on Monday 5th April to discuss the next stage of the roadmap, with the Prime Minister outlining plans to continue on the course to opening up the country, as well as providing more information about the future of international travel.
Travelling is currently prohibited unless there is an essential reason and the earliest date international journeys will resume is May 17th. A taskforce was set up to establish safe ways to open borders, with a traffic light system expected to come into place in May. Despite plans to allow travel from May 17th, there will be stringent regulations, and passengers will need to take a series of tests as well as isolating on their return to the UK in some cases. Passengers travelling from ‘red’ countries will need to quarantine in hotels and only UK nationals will be able to enter the country from places on the red list.
So far, rapid Covid-19 tests have been available for students and pupils and businesses hoping to welcome employees back to work. Ministers are hoping that offering tests to everyone in England will help to keep case numbers low and ensure that anyone who does test positive can isolate at home without putting others at risk. The tests will be available free of charge.