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Hertfordshire County Council

Coronavirus tests for people with symptoms (PCR tests)

Book a COVID-19 test for yourself or a family member. Don't delay if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you have a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you should either order a test kit or book a test at one of the drive-through testing centres.

For additional help to book a test, call 119 between 7am and 11pm. Textphone / minicom users with hearing or speech difficulties, call 18001 0300 303 2713.

The call centre can also answer enquiries about the testing process and what to do once you have your result, or chase up any delayed results.


Drive-through tests in Hertfordshire

Check the drive-through testing sites available for the next day.

Drive-through testing sites are open on various days of the week in Hertford, Broxbourne, Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City for everyone living or working in Hertfordshire.

The drive-through testing centre at Tesco Headquarters in Shire Park in Welwyn Garden City is open every day from 8am to 8pm. It has been carrying out an average of 210 tests every day. Here, people can test themselves with the swabs provided or have a swab test carried out by a trained professional. The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat.

Bring your mobile phone when you visit a testing centre. If you book a test in Watford, you may need to pay for parking as you wait.

Visit for more about symptoms, how to book a test and the NHS Test and Trace system.

Coronavirus tests for people with no symptoms (rapid testing)

1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t show any symptoms.

Rapid tests are free tests for people who do not have any symptoms. They're also known as lateral flow tests.


Who can have a rapid test?

During the current national lockdown, we're prioritising key and essential workers who don't have any symptoms and cannot work from home.

Key and essential workers include people working in the following areas:

  • health and social care, including voluntary and private sector
  • education and childcare, including voluntary and private sector
  • utilities (gas, water, electric etc) and communications, including refuse, highways and waste workers
  • food and necessary goods
  • transport
  • key public services (for example, courts, emergency services, Job Centres, benefits and advice sectors)
  • public safety and national security
  • national and local government.

We recommend key and essential workers get tested twice a week.

If you do have symptoms, book a standard coronavirus test (PCR) online.


Where and when you can get a rapid test

Rapid testing will be available from Wednesday 20 January.

Cancel your rapid test booking

You won't be able to access a rapid test centre without booking beforehand. If you have any issues booking online, email

You'll be able to book appointments up to 7 days in advance on a first come first served basis.

Testing centres will open gradually across Hertfordshire, with more sites added every week. Keep checking here for new locations and opening times.

What happens at the rapid test centre

  1. When you arrive, we'll ask you to register. Have your booking confirmation and your mobile phone number or email address to hand.
  2. We will take you through to the testing area.
  3. At some test centres, you'll need to swab your own throat and nose with supervision from a trained professional. At other centres, a trained professional will do the swab for you. We'll let you know when you arrive.
  4. Once your swab has been submitted, you'll leave the test centre.


What to do next

When you leave the test centre, you’ll be given a flyer with more information. Please go straight home or back to work, ideally not using public transport (unless that’s how you got to the test centre).

Rapid tests take 10 minutes. You'll get the results within 60 minutes, by email or text.

If you test positive

You'll receive your result from NHS Test and Trace via text message or email. 

If you test positive using a rapid test, you must self-isolate and book a standard (PCR) test to confirm if you are infected with the virus.

The message you receive won’t automatically advise you to do this.

You need to get a standard test because it's possible that some people who test positive with a rapid test are 'false positive'. The standard PCR test will identify these.

If the standard PCR test result is negative, you'll no longer need to self-isolate and your contacts will no longer need to quarantine. You'll still need to follow the current national restrictions. 

If the standard PCR test result is positive, you must isolate in line with NHS advice.

After a positive PCR test result and self-isolation, people should not have a further test of either kind within 90 days of their positive test.

Positive results from tests will be collected by NHS Test and Trace and published as part of the daily case numbers, including how many positive cases are detected with this new method of testing. NHS COVID-19 app users should input their results into the app.


Can I get financial help if I test positive?

Eligible individuals who test positive will be entitled to the £500 test and trace support payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace. The government has set out this eligibility criteria.

Find out more and apply for a Test and Trace support payment

If you test negative

You must continue to follow the national restrictions in place at that time. 


  • Hands – wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water often, and as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you don't normally meet.
  • Space – stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you don't live with, or who is not in your support bubble.

A negative rapid test result doesn't constitute a 'green pass' and doesn't change the current national rules we all need to follow.


How rapid testing helps

Through this programme, we aim to identify people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms but who are infectious and could spread the infection to others unknowingly.

Identifying and supporting infectious people to isolate will help reduce spread.

Who has received rapid testing already?

In November 2020, the government rolled out 10,000 tests as a trial. The first priorities were:

  • NHS staff
  • universities, testing whether students could go home or should self-isolate
  • vulnerable adults entering and leaving hospital and care homes
  • vulnerable children, including unaccompanied child migrants and asylum seekers
  • foster care placements, allowing them to happen in a COVID-secure way.

In December 2020, Hertfordshire County Council ran a successful pilot of rapid testing in Broxbourne district, testing 2,000 people over 4 days.

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