Also see:  Info & Advice

Guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test, how to get tested and the different types of test available.

One of the most challenging things about coronavirus is the uncertainty: not knowing who has the infection or when it’s safe to return to normal life. Good-quality testing can help provide greater certainty and play an important part in stopping the spread or coronavirus and saving lives.

List of essential workers and those prioritised for testing (England only)  (published 29 April 2020)

Who can be tested

Our priority is testing patients to inform their clinical diagnosis.

We are also testing:

  • all essential workers including NHS and social care workers with symptoms (see the full list of essential workers below)
  • anyone over 65 with symptoms
  • anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers)
  • anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with any of those identified above

Additionally, we are testing:

  • social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms) both to investigate outbreaks and, following successful pilots, as part of a rolling programme to test all care homes
  • NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance
  • This means anyone in one of these groups can find out whether they have the virus. Testing is most effective within 3 days of symptoms developing.


Essential workers

all NHS and social care staff, including:

  • doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers
  • the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector
  • those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of medicines, and medical and personal protective equipment
  • NHS Blood and Transplant frontline staff (blood donation staff, specialist nurses for organ donation, staff running therapeutic apheresis services in NHS hospitals)
  • those providing ancillary support to NHS workers (such as hotel accommodation for NHS staff)

essential public services staff, including:

  • prisons, probation, courts and tribunals staff, judiciary
  • religious staff
  • charities and workers delivering critical frontline services
  • those responsible for the management of the deceased
  • journalists and broadcasters covering coronavirus or providing public service broadcasting
  • public health and environmental staff, such as specialist community public health nursing

public safety and national security staff, including:

  • police and support staff
  • Ministry of Defence civilians, contractors and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of critical defence and national security outputs and critical to the response to the coronavirus pandemic), including defence medical staff
  • fire and rescue service employees (including support staff),
  • National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas
  • British Transport Police and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency

transport workers, including:

  • those who keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus response
  • those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass

education and childcare workers, including:

  • support and teaching staff
  • social workers
  • specialist education professionals

critical personnel in the production and distribution of food, drink and essential goods, including:

  • those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery
  • those critical to the provision of other essential goods, such as medical supply chain and distribution workers, including community pharmacy and testing (such as PHE labs), and veterinary medicine
  • workers critical to the continuity of essential movement of goods

local and national government staff critical to the effective delivery of the coronavirus response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits

public and environmental health staff, including in government agencies and arm’s length bodies

funeral industry workers

frontline local authority staff and volunteers, including

  • those working with vulnerable children and adults, victims of domestic abuse, and the homeless and rough sleepers (and hotel staff supporting these groups)
  • voluntary sector organisations providing substance misuse treatment

utilities, communication and financial services staff, including:

  • staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure)
  • the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage)
  • information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the coronavirus response
  • essential staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 essential services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors

Website to arrange a test

Self referral portal USER GUIDE (for essential workers to book a test at a regional centre or via home delivery)