North Somerset rapid testing

Twice-weekly rapid Covid-19 testing is available now for anyone without symptoms of coronavirus who lives or works in North Somerset.

We encourage whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, as well as anyone who cannot work from home to get tested twice a week.

The information on this page is for our community testing sites, where you can visit with a booking for a rapid test. You may also get tested through your employer, if your workplace runs its own programme, or with at-home rapid testing, which is being launched by the government.

How it works

The test being used for this is called a lateral flow test, which gives the result in under an hour.

The person being tested does their own throat and nose swab and the sample is then processed by testing staff on site. This involves dropping a solution on to the sample on the device, waiting for it to work, then reading the result.

Once someone has given their sample they leave the testing centre and are contacted by text or email with the test result and advice on what to do next.

Booking a rapid test

Where can I get tested?

The testing sites are at: 

  • Somerset Hall, Portishead
  • Hutton Moor, Weston-super-Mare
  • Scotch Horn leisure centre

When are the sites open?

Community rapid testing sites are open seven days a week from 8.30am to 5pm, with evening opening until 7.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Is the testing site safe?

Testing sites are designed to be Covid safe, with space to allow for social distancing. Full PPE appropriate to the nature of the tasks being carried out will be worn by testing centre staff.

How do I book a test?

You can book online. Booking is simple and can be done in less than a minute.

Can I book over the phone?

At the moment booking is only available online and is simple to do in less than a minute. If you do not have access to the internet, please ask someone to help you make you booking.

I’ve got Covid symptoms, can I book a test?

This testing is only for people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus - a high temperature, a new and persistent cough, or loss or change in sense of taste and/or smell. You must not attend the test site if you have any Covid-19 symptoms or if you have been told by NHS Test and Trace that you must self-isolate.

Free testing continues to be available locally to everyone who has symptoms and you can book on the GOV.UK website or by calling 119.

Can I get a test without an appointment?

You will only be able to get a test if you have booked an appointment online.

Please do not arrive at the testing site without a booking as you will not get a test and extra people attending without a clear purpose may increase the risk of infection.

Who is eligible for a test?

Anyone who lives or works in North Somerset can get a test.

I’m a contact of someone who has Covid. Can I use this test to shorten my self-isolation period?

You should not come to our test centres if you have been told to self-isolate because you have Covid or if you have been in contact with someone who has Covid. If you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace you are not allowed to come for a rapid test and you must stay at home for the whole period.

Having my test

What do I need to bring to the test centre?

If you are getting a test you will need to bring the same type of face covering that is currently needed in indoor shops and public transport. You will be asked to use hand sanitiser whilst in the testing centre to help protect you and others.

You will also need your smart mobile phone, which you will use to fill in a short online form in order to receive your test results. If you do not own a mobile phone there are a small number of devices available at the centre.

How do I take the test?

You will take a swab of your own throat and nose and hand it to a testing centre staff member who will process the result for you. Full instructions on how to take your swab are shown in the testing booth, where you will also find everything you need, including a mirror.

How long does it take to do the test?

It takes less than five minutes to administer the test.

Will I have to queue to get a test?

There may be a short queue on arrival at the site. This is not expected to be more than a couple of minutes.

How do I get my results and how long will it take?

You will get an email or text with your results in under an hour. It will include the test result and advice on what to do next.

What will this test tell me?

If you get a positive result, it is likely that you were infectious at the time the test was taken. The test may give a negative result in a small number of people that are actually positive as it cannot detect very low levels of coronavirus. It is therefore really important that you continue to follow the same coronavirus rules, even if you get a negative result.

What should I do if I test positive?

You, your household, and members of your support and childcare bubbles if you have them, will need to self-isolate for 10 days. You will also need to book a follow up PCR Covid test to confirm the result on the GOV.UK website or by calling 119. Instructions will be given with your result via text or email.

For details of financial and practical support available if you need to self-isolate visit our North Somerset Together pages.

What happens if I test negative?

The test may give a negative result in a small number of people that are actually positive as it cannot detect very low levels of coronavirus. It is therefore really important that you continue to follow the same coronavirus rules, even if you get a negative result.

With a negative test, you must still act like you have the virus and continue to wash your hands frequently, wear a mask if you can, stay at least 2m away from anyone not in your household or support bubble, and follow the latest government guidance for where you live and work. These are still the most important things you can do to stop the spread of the virus, and protect your family, friends and community.

About rapid testing

What are lateral flow tests?

Lateral flow antigen tests are used to test a higher proportion of people without Covid-19 symptoms (also called asymptomatic). This means we can identify and isolate more people who are at high likelihood of spreading virus. Each positive person we find through this type of testing is valuable because it will help to break the chain of transmission.

A lateral flow test detects the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad. The sample runs along the surface of the pad, and, once it’s fully developed, shows a visual positive or negative result dependent on the presence of the virus.

Why should I take part?

Many people who catch coronavirus don’t develop any symptoms at all but may spread it to their friends, family, and other members of community. Rapid testing aims to identify people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms but who are infectious so they can by supported to self-isolate and help stop the spread of the virus.

By taking a test you are helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19, which will also help keep critical services, such as health services, public transport, essential shops and recycling and waste collections, running.

Do I have to take this test?

We hope as many people as possible who can benefit from a test will choose to take one as it will help protect our family, friends, and community, but it is not compulsory.

I can get a lateral flow test through my work or school – do I need to take one of these as well?

Our rapid testing is part of the national plan to give more people in England access to tests when they do not have symptoms. If you are already able to get lateral flow tests, which are the same as our rapid tests, you do not need to get tested with us.

Do these tests work for people without symptoms?

Lateral flow tests are validated technology. It is safe, inexpensive and the results are trusted. Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford show Lateral Flow Tests are accurate and sensitive to be deployed for mass testing, including for asymptomatic people.

How effective is rapid testing?

The most accurate test we have for Covid-19 is the PCR test which you would get if you had symptoms. These test results can take a day or more to come back but are usually very accurate. The lateral flow devices used for rapid testing can give a much quicker result (usually within an hour) but they are not as accurate. A positive rapid test is backed up by a confirmatory PCR test to confirm the result.

A negative rapid test is not a guarantee that you do not have the virus. This is why you must continue to wash your hands, cover your face if you can, stay at least 2m from anyone not in your household or support bubble, and follow the Covid guidance even if you get a negative test. Please continue to keep your contacts to a minimum.