1 April 2022
As April begins please note some changes to COVID-19 regulations.
On Thursday, NHS England wrote to senior NHS leaders to say that COVID-19 lateral flow tests (LFTs) will continue to be available for patient-facing staff.
NHS patient-facing staff should continue to test twice weekly when asymptomatic. LAMP testing will no longer be available after 31 March.
LFTs will continue to be available through the GOV.UK portal for NHS staff working in a patient-facing role. NHS England is working with UKHSA to determine how routine asymptomatic testing should be stepped down in line with any decrease in prevalence rates.
We also understand that free lateral flow tests will be available to people living or working in some high-risk settings. For example:
- Staff in adult social care services such as homecare organisations and care homes
- Staff in residential SEND settings
- NHS workers, also covering NHS in hospices, and prisons and places of detention
- All NHS and NHS-commissioned Independent Healthcare Providers
We are seeking clarification on how speech and language therapists, including independent practitioners, will be able to access free tests if they are working in any of the above settings.
In schools, routine testing will no longer be expected.
Further details for England can be found on the GOV.UK website.
A number of changes to Test, Trace, Protect have now come into force in Wales including:
- The closure of all PCR test sites.
- Free lateral flow tests to support regular asymptomatic testing in workplaces ended on 31 March except for health and social care workers.
- Routine asymptomatic testing in childcare and education settings, except special education provision, will stop at the end of the term (8 April).
- Face coverings are legally required only in health and care settings, workplaces and premises open to the public must continue to do coronavirus risk assessments.
From 18 April, if the current public health situation remains stable, all remaining restrictions will be removed.
Further details for Wales can be found at gov.wales.
The requirement for wearing face masks will be lifted on a phased basis. The requirement to wear a face covering when attending places of worship or weddings, civil partnerships and funerals will be lifted from Monday 4 April.
The wearing of face coverings in public spaces such as in shops and on public transport will remain in place until 18 April.
For all the latest information and guidance in Scotland visit NHS Inform Scotland.
There are no changes to take effect this week, but there will be changes later in April.
Changes to Test, Trace and Protect in NI were announced on 24 March and are due to take effect from 22 April, including:
- Publicly accessible COVID-19 testing sites will close.
- Routine asymptomatic testing will continue to be advised for those living, working and visiting health and social care settings including hospitals and care homes and other high risk settings.
- Asymptomatic lateral flow testing for the wider population will cease. Access to free lateral flow tests for this purpose will cease.
- Routine asymptomatic testing in most educational settings (including mainstream schools, early learning and childcare, universities and further education colleges) will cease. Asymptomatic testing in special schools will continue.
For all the latest COVID-19 information and guidance for Northern Ireland visit NI Direct.
We will keep you updated as and when we have further information.
Two years on from the start of the first lockdown