Friday 9 April 2021 11:31 am

Boots to offer free rapid Covid tests at 1,500 pharmacies

Boots is offering free rapid Covid tests at more than 1,500 pharmacies across England as part of the government’s new testing drive.

People without symptoms will be able to visit their local Boots pharmacy and collect a free box of seven lateral flow devices (LFDs) to use twice weekly at home.

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Marc Donovan, chief pharmacist at Boots UK hailed the scheme as forming “a vital part of the government’s road map to cautiously ease restrictions.”

He added: “If you think you have Covid-19 symptoms, you should self-isolate immediately and head over to the government website to arrange a free PCR test, and follow the guidance depending on your result.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously earmarked rapid Covid tests as the route back to “normality”, saying that would help reopen the parts of the economy “that have been the toughest nuts to crack”.

Rapid Covid tests have a turnaround time of less than 30 minutes, and are available for free at all vaccination centres and test sites.

Ministers have suggested they will be key to stamping out asymptomatic transmission of the virus — with one in three people infected showing no signs of the disease.

The government yesterday announced it will roll out a new media blitz urging people to get tested twice a week as lockdown restrictions are lifted over the next few months.

A major public information campaign will air across TV, radio, press, and social media from tonight, with a debut on ITV at 7:15pm this evening.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “The British people have made a tremendous effort throughout the pandemic and I am confident they will do the same now by taking up this offer of free, rapid tests.

“Around one in three people have coronavirus without any symptoms, so getting tested regularly is one of the simplest and easiest ways we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. I’d encourage everyone to take up the offer and test twice a week.”

The government said last week it will offer businesses free home test kits for employees in a bid to get staff back to the workplace after almost a year of home working.

All businesses with more than 10 employees who cannot offer on-site testing will be eligible for free lateral flow tests from today. Staff will have to pick up the self-test kits from their employer to be completed at home, and will then be asked to report their test results to the NHS online. 

Read more: Whitehall agrees deal to set up hybrid offices as civil servants push to keep remote working

Almost 60,000 businesses have already signed up to the government’s workplace testing programme, which will provide free rapid tests to key workers.

Businesses have until 12 April to register for the programme, and can apply even if they are not currently open or are not able to start using the tests straight away.