Changes to COVID community testing sites: all you need to know
New COVID testing sites for people without symptoms will open their doors across Stockton-on-Tees next week.
Why are the sites changing?
New sites are needed as the current venues (Billingham Forum, Thornaby Pavilion and Stockton Splash) are preparing to reopen as leisure centres in accordance with national guidelines on Monday 12 April.
The testing sites for people with COVID-19 symptoms are unaffected by these changes.
When will the current sites close?
Billingham Forum and Thornaby Pavilion will stop offering tests for people without symptoms at the end of Thursday (1 April).
Stockton Splash will remain open until Monday 26 April when a new site at Wellington Square is expected to open.
Splash will not be offering testing on Good Friday (2 April), Easter Sunday (4 April) or Easter Monday (5 April). It will be open for booked appointments on Easter Saturday (3 April).
Where are the new sites and when do they open?
Six new sites will open at:
- Billingham Community Centre - The Causeway, TS23 2DA (from Tuesday 6 April - seven days a week, 10am to 6pm)
- Ragworth Community Centre - 5 St. John's Way, TS19 0FB (from Tuesday 6 April - Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm)
- Elmwood Community Centre - 53 Darlington Road, TS18 5EP (from Tuesday 6 April - Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm)
- South Thornaby Community Centre - 112 Havilland Road, TS17 9JG (from Tuesday 6 April - seven days a week, 8am to 4pm)
- Ingleby Barwick Community Hub - 39 The Rings, TS17 5LL (from Tuesday 6 April - Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, 8am to 4pm)
- Wellington Square - 5 Wellington Street (near Sally Hair and Beauty) TS18 1NA (Monday 26 April - seven days a week, 10am to 6pm)
Work to identify a location for a seventh site in the Eaglescliffe and Yarm area is ongoing.
What do they offer and who is eligible?
There is no need to book, you can just turn up. These tests give a result quickly, in often around 30 minutes, and indicate if a person is negative or suspected of having the virus.
Anyone with a positive result then needs to arrange for a PCR test to confirm whether they have COVID-19 and should self-isolate immediately.
All of the sites will offer a 'Community Collect' service from Monday 12 April with home testing kits available for those who live in a household, or are in a support bubble, with someone who attends school or college. Staff working in childcare and nursery settings are also eligible.
The 'Community Collect' service will also be offered from Thornaby Central Library from Monday 12 April.
Both in the interim and after 12 April , home testing kits will still be available to collect for households who live with, or are in a support bubble with, someone who attends or works in a school or college by anyone over the age of 18 from the Dairy Car Park in Stockton or Billingham Forum car park.
Why is community testing important?
Sarah Bowman-Abouna, Director of Public Health for Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: "This kind of testing for people without any of the classic COVID symptoms is an important tool in helping us prevent the spread of the virus locally.
"Any one of us could be carrying the virus without knowing it so this testing allows us to identify such cases and to support people to self-isolate so it can be contained.
"We're asking people to get tested twice a week where possible. This gives us the best chance of keeping our local infection rate low while the vaccination programme continues.
"The new sites are spread across the Borough so that even if there isn't one in your town or village, we hope it's just a short journey to reach one."
Where can I find out more?
For more information about the full range of testing options available in the Borough visit Stockton Borough Council.