Late on Thursday night, the Government announced that lateral flow tests would be accepted from 24th October for the majority of people entering England.
More information has now been published, allowing us to flesh out the details.
Remember that this information only applies to people entering England. The devolved administrations have their own policies.
What is a Day 2 test?
A ‘Day 2’ test is the covid test that everyone, including children of five years and older, is obliged to take within two full calendar days of entering England.
You do NOT need to take the test on Day 2. You can take it on Day 0 (many people take one at the airport as soon as they pass through immigration), Day 1 or Day 2.
What is changing?
From 24th October, most people entering England can take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a pricier – but more accurate – PCR test.
To take advantage of this:
- you must be ‘fully vaccinated’ under the Government definition (your vaccine must be on the prescribed list, the course must have been completed within a fixed period before entering England and you must have received your vaccine in one of the 100+ countries where the Government recognises the integrity of the local vaccination programme)
- you must not be entering England from a ‘Red List’ country or have visited one in the previous 10 days before your arrival in the UK – although if you were, you would be undergoing hotel quarantine in any case
What should my unvaccinated children do?
Children under 18 are treated as ‘fully vaccinated’ – and so eligible to take a lateral flow test – irrespective of the status of the adults they are travelling with.
All children aged five and above must take a ‘Day 2’ test. No tests are required for children aged four and under.
What happens if I am not ‘fully vaccinated’ but not entering from a ‘Red List’ country?
- take a ‘fit to fly’ pre-departure test before boarding a flight to England
- take a PCR test – not lateral flow – within two full calendar days of arriving in the UK
- undergo 10 days of self-isolation
- take a ‘Day 8’ PCR test, with the option of paying for an additional ‘Test to Release’ on Day 5
When does this take effect on 24th October?
It is not clear. In the absence of any specific time, you should assume it applies to all aircraft that land after 00:00.
How do I get a lateral flow test kit?
As with the existing PCR tests, these must be purchased from a private provider before entering the UK. The reference number for your purchase must be added to your Passenger Locator Form.
Apparently unlicenced lateral flow test kits are accepted
The Government is allowing tests to be sold which do not meet the required standards because there is a shortage of high quality lateral flow test kits in the UK. To quote from gov.uk:
“The government will extend regulations and publish protocol to allow some tests supplied to the private testing market that are pending validation to remain on the market in the short term. This is to address any potential shortage of supply while work continues at pace to ensure only high-performing tests are ultimately approved to remain on the UK market.”
When can I purchase a qualifying test?
Kits will be available to purchase from 22nd October.
The Government will publish a list of approved suppliers but you are not obliged to use a supplier on that list.
How do I submit my test result?
The Government has stated that a photograph of the test cartridge, uploaded to a platform run by your test provider, is acceptable as proof of a negative test.
Can I still submit a PCR test, as I have already bought a kit?
What happens if my lateral flow test is positive?
You should order a confirmatory PCR test via the NHS and self-isolate for 10 days from the date that you first experienced symptoms. It is not 10 days from when you tested positive.
You can find out more on this page of gov.uk. You should obviously double-check the information in this article with gov.uk if it impacts you in any way.