In line with central government policy, Cumbria County Council have announced that all free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing sites for COVID-19 need to close in the county by Thursday 31 March.
The in-person and mobile testing sites were set up during the height of the pandemic but following the release of the government’s "Living with COVID-19" plan, they will all be decommissioned by the end of the month – with some closing earlier than that.
Two sites which have already been confirmed for closure are the Mobile testing units at Ambleside Rothay Holme and Barrow-in-Furness Waterside, with both sites closing from Monday 7 March.
Everyone will still be able to access free testing until 31 March – including online orders. After 1 April, Free lateral flow tests (LFTs) will no longer be available to the general public and businesses. There are some professional groups who will continue to receive access to free testing and these are likely to include the Social Care workforce and higher risk groups, such as those with weakened immune systems.
Clarity regarding which professional groups will continue to receive free testing has not yet been confirmed by Central Government but updates are expected soon.
Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, Colin Cox, said: "Firstly, I'd like to say a huge thank you to all the incredible testing teams who’ve worked at these sites throughout the pandemic. Cumbria will forever be grateful for the work you’ve done to protect our communities.
"I’m sure for many the closure of testing sites will feel like the end of the pandemic, but that’s not the case, it’s just the next step in learning to live with COVID-19.
"The virus is still circulating, and testing will still be a part of everyday life moving forward - we’ll just access it differently than we have before.
"It’s important to note that some sites will close earlier than the 31 March, but when we have confirmed dates for each site, we'll update the public and our website accordingly so please keep an eye out for updates.
"Although the testing sites are set to close, it could be some weeks and months yet before all of the equipment at individual sites is removed. We remain in discussions with the DHSC about when this might happen - but it’s a huge operation to clear everything away nationally, so please bear with them and us while sites are cleared."
To book a COVID-19 test (up until the 31 March 2022) or order a home test kit, visit the NHS website.