Education staff including early years practitioners can now access free coronavirus tests, along with other essential workers, the Government has confirmed.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that members of essential worker households would also be able to access the tests if needed.

The definition of “essential worker” will be based on the same list that is used to determine which families have continued access to education and includes early years staff, childminders and teachers.

Essential workers with symptoms can book appointments directly on online for themselves or members of their household and arrange either a test at a drive-through centre or a home test. Test results from the drive-through sites will be sent out by text within 48 hours, and within 72 hours of collection of the home delivery tests.

The Health Secretary said the new online booking system is key to the Government reaching its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of the month.

However, there are currently only 30 testing sites around the country and the website set up for key workers to book COVID-19 tests was unable to take any more applications and had run out of home-testing kits within an hour of opening.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “Childcare professionals, like many other key workers, continue to put themselves at risk in order to ensure that care is available to vulnerable and key worker children at this difficult time.

"It is absolutely right therefore that the Government prioritises testing for key workers with symptoms to enable them to clarify their medical status, and ensure that they are not kept away from their vital roles due to potentially unnecessary self-isolation.

"Of course, as with all such announcements, the devil is in the detail. With a limited number of testing sites currently in operation, it remains to be seen how easy it will be for key workers like childcare practitioners to access tests. Nevertheless, this is a positive step and one that we hope will go at least some way to addressing the staffing challenges that some settings have been facing."

More information is available at GOV.UK.

Last reviewed 29 April 2020