Workers across Herefordshire expecting to return to their jobs from Monday April 12 are being invited to start doing twice-weekly rapid COVID-19 tests (known as Lateral Flow Tests) immediately.

The government’s plan is that from April 12 non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings including libraries and community centres can reopen.

Herefordshire Council-run testing sites and community pharmacies across the county are extending their offer of COVID-19 rapid testing – currently for symptom-free essential workers, who cannot work from home – to those likely to resume work as part of Step 2 of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

April 12 may also mark the return to other key activities – indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen in a restricted way, as will most outdoor attractions such as zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and outdoor hospitality venues like pub gardens and cafes. Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.

Also from April 12, anyone aged 16 years or over venturing out for these purposes in Herefordshire is encouraged to access symptom-free testing at a local test site.

Around one in three people who are infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and help break the chain of transmission.

The government’s Community Asymptomatic Testing Programme, being run locally by Herefordshire Council, aims to improve the detection of positive cases so people can isolate and prevent spreading the disease and reduce the prevalence of the virus. It is being used in addition to the established testing venues, which are for anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 in Herefordshire.

Herefordshire residents can book an appointment at a community symptom-free test site by visiting the Council’s website. The rapid tests produce a result in up to 2 hours and people are notified by text message or email. Anyone who does not receive their result within 12 hours, should take another rapid test.

Herefordshire Public Health Consultant Sarah Smith said:

“There are many people across Herefordshire who are anticipating returning to work and other activities from April 12 and, if the government’s roadmap out of lockdown is to go according to plan, it is vital the infection rates remain low.

“We know a significant number of those who contract COVID-19 do not display symptoms and are unknowingly passing it to others. These tests are vital to our efforts to suppress the virus.

“As more settings reopen and people leave their homes to work and to visit other businesses, there is a greater risk of the virus spreading. By using our symptom-free rapid testing facilities Herefordshire residents – including those expecting to restart work soon – can play their part in breaking the virus’s chains of transmission and helping the country to come out of the lockdown.”

Please remember it is vital that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms – a new continuous cough, high temperature, change or loss of smell and/or taste – immediately self-isolates and books a test online or by calling NHS 119. Home test kits can also be ordered.

To protect yourself and others, you must remember: Hands. Face. Space. Vaccination.

  • Hands – wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water often, and as soon as you get home – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
  • Space – stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble.
  • Vaccination – take up the COVID-19 vaccination when you are invited to do so.