Rapid COVID tests

Rapid COVID-19 tests

Take tests if you do not have symptoms to help manage your risk

Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have any symptoms. This means they could be spreading the virus without knowing it. Testing regularly increases the chances of detecting COVID-19 when you are infectious but are not displaying symptoms, helping to make sure you do not spread COVID-19 by staying at home and self-isolating immediately.

Rapid lateral flow testing continues to be available free of charge. You can get tests from our rapid test centres, our libraries, local pharmacies or online. 

You are at higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and where there is limited fresh air.

You may wish to take a rapid lateral flow test if it is expected that there will be a period of high risk that day. This includes spending time in crowded and enclosed spaces, or before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19.

Certain places such as health and social care settings, schools and prisons are likely to have their own specific testing rules and guidance. You should always make sure you are aware of this guidance if you visit or work in these places.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test.

Option 1: Having a test at home

Take a rapid Lateral Flow test twice a week and report the results, whether positive or negative.

You can collect up to 2 packs of 7 tests from a local library, pharmacy, our testing centres or order a pack of 7 tests for home delivery.

From 4 October 2021, you'll need a collect code when you pick up your tests from pharmacies. 

However, you can still collect tests from our libraries and community collect buses without a code.

Collect from a library

Find your nearest library.

Collect from a pharmacy

Find a pharmacy where you can collect rapid tests.

Order 7 tests for home delivery

Order rapid lateral flow home test kits on GOV.UK

Collect from our mobile collection points onboard at:

  • Marston Moretaine Co-Op: Mondays from 9am to midday
  • Leighton Buzzard Market: Tuesdays from 9am to midday
  • Leighton Buzzard Aldi: Tuesdays from 12.30pm to 4pm
  • Biggleswade Market: Tuesdays from 9am to midday
  • Biggleswade Lidl: Tuesdays from 12.30pm to 4pm
  • Dunstable Market: Wednesdays from 9am to midday
  • Shillington Village Hall: Wednesdays from 1.30pm to 2:30pm
  • Dunstable The Quadrant: Thursdays from 12.30pm to 4pm
  • Houghton Regis Morrisons: Thursdays from 9am to midday
  • Shefford Morrisons: Fridays from 9am to midday
  • Toddington Poplars Garden Centre 12.30pm to 4pm

If you do tests at home, you'll need to report your results online or on the phone. Your pack will include details of how to do this and what to do next.

Option 2: Having a test at a test centre

If you don't want to do a home test, come to one of our test centres, which can provide results usually within 30 minutes.

The sites are located in Flitwick and Dunstable and provide supervised tests by appointment only.

Please note that people aged under 16 years old cannot make appointments at our lateral flow testing sites, but should book a PCR test.

Book your appointment

You can also pick up a home test kit from any of our testing buses.

Bookable test centres


Flitwick Village Hall
Dunstable Road
MK45 1HP

Opening hours:

  • Monday 8am to 4pm
  • Wednesday 8am to 4pm
  • Friday 8am to 4pm


Central Bedfordshire Council
Watling House
High Street North

Opening hours:

  • Monday 8am to 4pm
  • Wednesday 8am to 4pm
  • Friday 8am to 4pm

Please note our Biggleswade, Leighton Buzzard and Houghton Regis mobile test buses are not operating during the winter.

You must not arrive more than 5 minutes before booked appointment

To enter this site, you must:

  • be 16 or over and have an appointment booking reference number with you
  • wear a face covering (unless you are unable to do so)

You must not queue or enter this site if you:

  • have COVID-19 symptoms
  • have tested positive with PCR or LFD test and should still be self-isolating
  • live with somebody who has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19
  • have been instructed to self-isolate by Test and Trace or the COVID-19 app

What is a rapid test and how does it work?

A rapid test, also called a lateral flow test, is a test for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. If you have symptoms, you should self-isolate at home and book a standard COVID-19 test online, on the NHS website, or call 119.

From Wednesday 11 August, we will be using a new type of test, Acon-Flowflex, which requires nasal only swabs and returns a result in 20 minutes. A throat swab is not needed.

The tests work in the same way as the previous tests that took swabs from the back of throat and nose but are even easier to use and give results even quicker. If you have any questions just speak to our team at the buses.

What to do if you test positive

A positive result means it's likely you had coronavirus (COVID-19) when the test was done. You and anyone you live with must self-isolate immediately.

What you need to do next depends on the type of test you had and where you had it.

Testing centre: positive rapid test result

If you did a rapid lateral flow test at a testing centre and the result was positive:

Continue to self-isolate until you get the result of the PCR test. Follow the advice you're given when you get the result.

If you do not get a PCR test within 2 days of a positive rapid lateral flow test, you will need to self-isolate for 10 full days even if you get a negative PCR result.

At home: positive rapid test result

If you did a rapid lateral flow test at home and the result was positive:

Continue to self-isolate until you get the result of the PCR test. Follow the advice you're given when you get the result.

Find out how long to self-isolate

Find out what support is available, if you need to self-isolate.