Covid-19: Free tests to end on 1 April
By Emily Wallin.
Free Covid-19 tests for all will end on 1 April the prime minister announced (21 February).
Speaking in a press conference from Downing Street, announcing the lifting of all the remaining Covid-19 restrictions, Boris Johnson said: “From 1 April, we will end free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public.
“But we will continue providing free symptomatic tests to those at the highest risk from Covid. “And in line with the practice of many other countries, we are working with retailers to ensure you will always be able to buy a test.”
Johnson did not reveal the likely cost of lateral flow tests, but reports suggest they could cost around £30 for a pack of seven. The end of free testing is likely to spur events organisers to scrap requests for testing prior to entry.
Other changes include:
• From Thursday (23 February) it will no longer be law to self-isolate when testing positive for Covid-19.
• Self-isolation support payments also to end from Thursday.
• Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-19 isolation will only continue until 23 March.
• Spring boosters for older than 75 or immunosuppressed
Speaking to Parliament earlier in the day Johnson said: “Covid will not suddenly disappear. “Restrictions pose a heavy toll on our economy, society, mental wellbeing and the life chances our children and we do not need to pay that cost any longer.
“It is time we got our confidence back. Let us learn to live with this virus and continue protecting ourselves.” Leader of the opposition Kier Starmer condemned the decision to end free testing.
He said: “I can’t understand the prime minister taking away the tools.
“Free tests can’t continue forever. But if you’re 2-1 up with 10 minutes to got you don’t sub off one of you best defenders. Starmer also called for a commitment to funding to ramp up free testing if needed.