Your Covid testing options in Reading

Find out how to book and where Reading test sites are located.
Image from Department of Health video of Covid test

Article updated 11 February 2021

There are now a variety of sites in Reading for people to get tested for coronavirus.

A permanent walk-through site, at Propsect Park carpark, opened on 22 January 2021. Previously a mobile unit had visited the carpark several days a month but a test centre will now be based there all the time.

Last October a permanent walk-through site also opened for the public at the University of Reading (separate to their on-site rapid testing for staff and students).

People with symptoms usually have the 'PCR test'. This the most reliable, involving swabs being sent to labs, but you can wait days for your results.

Community testing for key workers or volunteers with no symptoms, is also now available at two locations. These use lateral flow tests to give quicker results in around 30 minutes (similar to a home pregnancy test kit). They are not as accurate as PCR tests but they can help detect cases in people who have caught Covid without realising it. 

Tests for people with symptoms

Who is eligible to get tested?

You can request a free test if you have one or more of the most common Covid-19 symptoms: a temperature, a new persistent cough or your sense of smell or taste has changed. You can also ask on behalf of someone you live with who has symptoms.

When should I book a test?

Ideally as soon as possible but within the first 8 days of symptoms. The latest to order a home testing kit is 3pm on day 7.

Where are local testing sites for people with symptoms?

  • Prospect Park carpark (walk-through) 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week
  • University of Reading London Road campus (walk-through) 8am-8pm 7 days a week

There are also sites further afield at Bracknell Leisure Centre (walk-through), Magnet Leisure Centre carpark, Maidenhead (walk-through) and Newbury Showground (drive-through).

Can I just turn up? 

No – you must pre-book an appointment.

How do I book? 

Via the NHS website, by calling 119 or via the NHS Covid App.

Why isn't my nearest site showing on the booking site?

They won't display if all booked up, check in a few hours for new times or consider travelling further afield.

What if I'm too unwell or can't get to a test centre? 

You can order a home testing kit to be sent to you but they are not always available during times of high demand.

What does the test involve?

People with symptoms will be asked to use a long cotton bud to get a swab from inside their nose and back of the throat. Parents will be asked to do it on children aged 11 and below and staff are also available at test sites to assist if needed.

Can I leave home while I wait for my test date or home kit to arrive?

No, you and anyone you live with, must self-isolate until you get the result. If you test positive, you'll be told how much longer to isolate for. If no tests are available for you to book, you'll have to follow general self-isolation guidance.

What if I'm worried about missing work because I tested positive?

You can apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 if you meet certain criteria.

Tests for key workers with no symptoms

Who is eligible to get tested?

  • Staff working for Reading Borough Council or Brighter Futures for Children
  • Early years workers, e.g. nurseries or childminders
  • Unregistered workers such as personal assistants 
  • Transport workers e.g. Readibus, school transport, taxis 
  • Staff, volunteers and leaders from faith settings 
  • Frontline staff from charity or voluntary organisations 
  • Funeral directors, undertakers and coroners  
  • Vets 
  • Staff facilitating community testing

Why do I need a test if I have no symptoms?

Around one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and can spread the virus without knowing it.   Finding these people means they and their contacts can isolate and break chains of transmission.

How often can I get tested?

People are invited to get tested twice a week. The lateral flow test is used, which qives a quick result.

Where can I go to get tested?

  • Rivermead Leisure Centre, Richfield Avenue, Reading RG1 8EQ 
  • South Reading Leisure Centre, Northumberland Avenue, Reading RG2 8DF 

Both venues have free parking onsite and are open Monday-Friday, 8am-7pm. 

Can I just turn up?

No, you must book an appointment via Reading Borough Council:

What does the test involve?

You will go to a bay and do a nose and throat swab sample, then return this to a member of staff.  Once you have taken your test you can go home. You will receive the result by text message within 30-60 minutes.  

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