Living with COVID: new testing arrangements

Updated 23 September 2022

Testing for COVID-19 was important throughout the pandemic to identify positive cases so that we could protect ourselves and others. That has changed because protection against COVID-19 is now strong in the population due to vaccination, natural immunity and antiviral treatments.

You are no longer advised to test routinely for COVID-19. The provision of free COVID-19 tests to the general public has stopped.

Limited testing continues only for vulnerable individuals and in high-risk settings. You may be able to get a free test from the NHS if:

  • you have a health condition which means you are eligible for COVID-19 treatments
  • you work in healthcare or adult social care, depending on your role and whether you have symptoms
  • you are going into hospital for certain types of treatment

Find out who can get a free NHS test.

If you intend to test yourself for COVID-19 and do not qualify for a free NHS test you can:

  • purchase a test kit from a pharmacy or other retailer, in person or online
  • use a private testing service

Visit Finding and choosing a private coronavirus test provider for guidance on testing services and a list of providers.

Stop the spread

Even without testing for COVID-19, you can continue with some simple precautions which help to stop the virus spreading:

  • Get up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, to protect yourself and others from infection and serious illness
  • If you feel unwell try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people
  • Wear a face covering in enclosed crowded spaces
  • Let in fresh air when indoors with other people
  • Wash your hands regularly

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