The Covid testing scheme will launch on April 9, with every resident offered the chance to take two tests per week. The tests will be available from a variety of places, including workplaces and local pharmacies, as well as home delivery.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Massive efforts have been made by the British public to stop the spread of the virus.
“As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our roadmap to cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted.
“That’s why we’re now rolling out free rapid tests to everyone across England – helping us to stop outbreaks in their tracks, so we can get back to seeing the people we love and doing the things we enjoy.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Around one in three people who have COVID-19 show no symptoms, and as we reopen society and resume parts of life we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.
“The vaccine programme has been a shot in the arm for the whole country, but reclaiming our lost freedoms and getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly.
“The British public have shown over the last year that they quickly adapt and always do what it is right in the interest of public health, and I know they will do their bit by getting tested regularly in the months ahead.”
Socialising rules have now been relaxed with groups of six allowed to meet outdoors, and restrictions are set to be relaxed further on April 12, with the planned reopening of hospitality venues for outdoor service.
Each individual will need to check in with an NHS QR code or by providing contact details when using a venue.
Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID-19 Strategic Response Director at PHE and Chief Medical Adviser to NHS Test and Trace, said: “Rapid testing helps us find COVID-19 cases that we wouldn’t otherwise know about, helping to break chains of transmission.
“These tests are effective in detecting people that are infectious and therefore most likely to transmit infection to others.
“They are another tool we now have to help maintain lower infection rates.
“I encourage everyone to take up the offer of these free rapid tests – they are quick and easy to carry out in your own home.”