North Somerset rapid testing

Anyone who lives or works in North Somerset can get a rapid Covid-19 test twice a week.

Where you can do rapid COVID-19 tests

You can do the rapid tests at:

  • our community testing centres in Weston-super-Mare and Portishead
  • at our mobile rapid testing unit
  • through your school or your employer if you are part of a workplace programme
  • at home

North Somerset community testing centres

Our testing centres are at:

  • Hutton Moor Leisure Centre in Weston-super-Mare
  • Somerset Hall in Portishead

The centres are open weekdays 8.30am-5.30pm with late opening until 7.30pm Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9am-1pm on weekends and bank holidays.

You don't need to book, but if you'd like to guarantee your time for assisted testing you can reserve a slot online. Appointments can’t be made over the phone.

The testing sites are designed to be Covid-safe, with space to allow for social distancing. Appropriate PPE will be worn by testing centre staff.

Mobile testing unit

The mobile centre, which is a specially adapted van, offers the same home test kit collections and assisted testing services as the static sites.

The mobile unit also has the same opening hours as our testing sites: weekdays 8.30am to 5.30pm, with late opening until 7.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9am to 1pm on weekends and bank holidays.

The mobile unit will visit:

  • Scotch Horn car park in Nailsea on Mondays and Thursdays
  • Queen’s Square in Clevedon on Tuesdays and Fridays
  • For All Healthy Living Centre in Weston on Wednesdays.

You can take a rapid test at the mobile unit and the staff will process your results, or you can collect kits to do testing at home.

School or workplace programme

The government has provided workplace testing for many sectors, including care homes and emergency services.

Staff in all schools and pupils in year 7 and above can get their tests through their school.

Home testing

Test kits for families and bubbles of school children can be collected from the testing centres at Locking Road car park in Weston-super-Mare and Bristol Airport every day between 2.30pm and 8pm. 

Everyone can pick up test kits from our testing sites:

  • Hutton Moor Leisure Centre in Weston-super-Mare
  • Somerset Hall in Portishead 
  • The mobile testing unit at different locations in North Somerset

They are available to pick up every day from 8.30am to 5.30pm and until 7.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

If you can't get to a one of these sites, a limited number of rapid Covid-19 test kits are available to be ordered online on the GOV.UK website.

We are working with the Department for Health and Social Care to increase the number of collection sites in North Somerset to make it as easy as possible for everyone to access twice-weekly rapid testing. 

Collection points will be listed on the NHS find a test centre map as they become available. 

Having your test at a testing centre

There may be a short queue when you get the testing centre. You shouldn't need to queue any more than a couple of minutes.

You'll need to wear a face covering when you arrive at the test centre and you'll be asked to use the hand sanitiser. 

You'll need a smart phone with you to fill out a short online form so you can receive your results. If you don't have a smart phone, there are a small number available for you to use at the centre. 

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. It will take less than five minutes to carry out the test.

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.

Test results

If you test positive

If you test positive after taking a rapid Covid-19 test, 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 be given more instructions with your test result that you will get over text or email.

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

If you test negative

It is very 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.

If you have tested positive or you are a contact of someone who has Covid-19 you cannot use a rapid test to shorten your self-isolation period.

You must not visit one of our test centres or use rapid tests if you have been told to self-isolate.

If you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace you must stay at home for the whole period. 

If you have Covid-19 symptoms

Rapid testing is only for people who have no Covid-19 symptoms. 

If you have symptoms of Covid-19 - a high temperature, a new and persistent cough, or loss or change in sense of taste or smell - you must not attend a rapid testing centre.

You should book a free test on the GOV.UK website or by calling 119. 

How a rapid test works

Rapid Covid-19 tests, called lateral flow antigen tests, are used to test a high number of people without Covid-19 symptoms. This means we can identify and isolate more people who are at high likelihood of spreading the 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.

Effectiveness of rapid tests

The most accurate test we have for Covid-19 is the PCR test which you would book through the GOV.UK website 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 has to be backed followed up by a PCR test to confirm the result.

A negative rapid test is not a guarantee that you do not have the virus and 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.