Get us in your inbox

Lateral flow test
Photograph: Shutterstock

Free Covid testing will end in England on Friday

But they’ll still be free for NHS staff and certain vulnerable groups

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
Advertising

In what feels like the end of an era, government provision of free LFTs is set to come to an end in England. From Friday (April 1), tests will only be available free of charge for certain people, such as NHS staff, care home residents, hospital patients and other vulnerable groups.

Everyone else, on the other hand, will have to buy an LFT from private providers instead. Predictably, there’s been a huge surge in companies offering latty flows at frankly ridiculous prices, but there are also, thankfully, others offering them on the cheap. The cheapest price we’ve seen so far has come from Medisave, which is selling individual tests for just 99p.

Technically anyone can get free LFTs until this Friday. However, according to iNews the government has already started rationing free tests. Only those who are visiting high-risk settings or people who support the vulnerable are currently being encouraged to order free tests.

So, why might you still want an LFT? Well, you might need one for travel, for starters, or you could also be visiting high-risk environments like care homes and hospitals. Or, of course, you might simply be worried about spreading the virus to people who could still be vulnerable to it. In any case, the vast majority of people will now have to pay up for the privilege.

It’s worth noting that if you live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the rules will be a bit different. Scotland’s end date for free tests is April 18, while Wales will be providing free testing for people with symptoms until the end of June. Northern Ireland hasn’t yet laid out its plan for phasing out free LFTs.

You can still order tests on the UK government website here. And once free testing ends, you can find out where to get cheap tests here.

Got five minutes to spare? Want to tell us what life is like in your city? Take the Time Out Index survey here.

Latest news

    Advertising