Until now, rapid testing in the UK has been available to those deemed most at risk, including frontline NHS workers, care home staff and residents, and schoolchildren and their families.
To facilitate the reopening of businesses and society post-lockdown, along with the rollout of vaccinations, free and quick COVID-19 testing will be made available twice a week to anyone in England as of 9 April, according to the UK Department of Health and Social Care.
The move comes amid concerns that one in 3 people with COVID-19 may not be experiencing any symptoms and, accordingly, might be spreading the virus unwittingly.
The tests will be available through several options. People will be able to order tests online, and have them delivered to their home.
There will be workplace testing programmes on offer, to be used on-site or at home. Community testing will be provided by all local authorities, with on-site testing available at schools and colleges as well.
People will be able to arrive at a local PCR test site during specified test collection time windows as well.
In line with the new plan, anyone over the age of 18 will also be able to pick up boxes of seven rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs) from their local pharmacy, as part of the new “Pharmacy Collect” service.
The tests will then be used by them and their families in line with clinical guidance.