SMART FAQs

Whole-community smart testing aims to protect those at highest risk and find asymptomatic cases (people without any symptoms).

This will help prevent and reduce transmission in the community. The more people we can test, the better we can fight the virus in our local area.

Stay Strong Halton. #LetsGetTested

It stands for Systematic Meaningful Asymptomatic Repeated Testing (Smart) which is the model we are using for community testing across Halton and the other areas of the Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral).
Smart ‘no symptoms’ Covid-19 community testing started mid-December in Halton with many people now getting regular tests to help keep their family, friends, customers and community as safe as possible. 1 in 3 people with Coronavirus don’t have any symptoms and are not aware that they are potentially spreading the virus. Smart testing is one of the most powerful tools we have in fighting the virus in our local area. This will continue for the foreseeable future as we work to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

Yes, please do keep taking part in regular ‘no symptoms’ testing. The vaccination programme alone is not enough to beat Covid-19. Testing is one of the best tools that we have to help us to prevent future outbreaks and to reduce the risk of new variants emerging. Testing, vaccination and continuing to follow good hygiene and social distancing rules, wearing face masks and remaining vigilant will all help to enable the return of more services, activities, events and getting back to all the people and things that we love.

Whilst vaccinations significantly reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill or being hospitalised due to Covid-19, it is still possible to be infected and potentially pass the virus on to other people even after being vaccinated. There will also always be a number of people who can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons.

You won’t test positive for Covid-19 just because you have been vaccinated. The vaccination and tests work in different ways and don’t affect each other. So, if you test positive for Covid-19, you should self isolate immediately and get a PCR test to confirm the result – see below for more information – what happens if I test positive?

Tests are available to anyone who lives or works in Halton, who does not have COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their age. Children under 18 will need parental consent. The Government has outlined the road map for lockdown measures being eased. The advice is still to stay at home and to work from home where possible. For those who are not able to work from home, we encourage you to get regular Smart tests – twice a week - to help to keep your family, friends, customers and colleagues as safe as possible.

Anyone who has previously received a positive test result for Covid-19 can choose to be re-tested within a 90 day period if they develop any new symptoms of Covid-19. In this case, you should use an NHS Covid-19 symptoms test centre, not one of the community ‘no symptoms’ centres. If the test is positive the normal self-isolation period will be required.

The 'lateral flow' tests are point of care tests, so don’t need to be processed in a lab. Results are ready very quickly – from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Most people will receive results by text or email soon after leaving the test centre.

Please note that very occasionally, the system doesn’t send a test result in this timeframe but you will be able to get your result the next day (at least 24 hours after test) by calling NHS 119.

To protect privacy, staff at the test centres are not able to access results.

We advise that you get tested regularly – twice a week, especially if you have to leave home to work, volunteer, care for a family member or friend or are wishing to attend activities and meet people outside now that some of the lockdown restrictions are easing.  We recommend getting into a weekly habit to get a test so you can help to keep our community as safe as possible. Please note that getting a negative result isn’t a green pass. You should still continue to follow all national and local rules and follow social distancing and hygiene measures.

1 in 3 people who have coronavirus don’t have any symptoms and may not be aware. Until we can get everyone vaccinated, getting tested is one of the best tools we have to fight the virus in our area.

You may also be able to access regular testing in your workplace, school or health/social care settings. Please see the relevant FAQ for more information.

If you get a positive result to a symptom-free test (lateral flow), you MUST self-isolate for 10 days as should everyone within your household. We are asking people to follow up a positive lateral flow test with a PCR* test at an NHS symptoms test centre as this test is processed in a lab which will help us to detect any new variants and their spread.

Please note - If you take this follow up PCR test within two days of the lateral flow test and the result is negative, you no longer need to self-isolate and contact tracing will stop.

See www.gov.uk/coronavirus for more advice.

*PCR - Polymerase Chain Reaction – the tests used by the NHS at the COVID symptoms test centres.

No – you should not attend the Smart ‘no symptoms’ community test centres.  If you have been told by NHS Test and Trace or a public health official that you are a contact of a positive case, it is a legal requirement that you have to self-isolate for 10 days. Failure to self-isolate for the full time-period can result in a fine of up to £10,000.

Getting a test when you’re already in self-isolation due to being a contact of a positive case cannot reduce the length of time you are required to self-isolate. If you develop Covid-19 symptoms during the self-isolation period, it is recommended that you go to one of the NHS Test Centres for people with symptoms and get a PCR test.  The local NHS test centres are at the vacant Police station/magistrates Kingsway, Widnes and behind St Paul’s Health Centre in Runcorn.

Self-isolation is one of the best ways that we can protect our friends, family and community against Covid-19. Please see our self isolation guide with support information and useful tips at www.halton.gov.uk/selfisolation

No- you should follow the advice given by your travel provider and also refer to the Government advice in place at the time of travel - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-test-to-release-for-international-travel.

We do not provide a ‘test to release’ service.

A negative lateral flow test does not constitute a 'green pass' and does not change the current rules we all need to follow during local restrictions. To protect yourself and others, you must remember:
  • 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 do not normally meet.
  • Space – stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble.
For all the information about the current restrictions in Halton, please visit our website - https://hbcnewsroom.co.uk/coronaadvice/
Through this type of testing, 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 before they develop symptoms will help reduce spread.
Absolutely not. We are hoping that many people will recognise the benefits of getting a test to help reduce the spread of the virus in their communities. Through more testing we will learn more about how the virus is spreading in our community which will help us over time to reduce the impact of Covid-19 and help us to protect the vulnerable.

Lateral flow tests are rapid turnaround tests that are processed at the community testing sites without any need for sending samples to a laboratory. The staff at the testing sites have received special training to carry out the processing. Results are ready very quickly – from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. You will receive your results by text or email soon after you leave the test centre.

Please note that very occasionally, the system doesn’t send a test result in this timeframe but you will be able to get your result the next day (at least 24 hours after test) by calling NHS 119.

To protect privacy, staff at the test centres are not able to access results.

You will be greeted by a member of staff and asked to register your information. You will then be asked to take a swab kit. You will then be given instructions on how to do the sample and take the swab sample which is a large cotton bud wiped at the back of your throat and up your nose and you will hand the swab back to a member of staff who processes the test there and then. You will then be asked to leave the test centre.

Shortly after, you will receive a text or e-mail with results – approximately 30 minutes to two hours afterwards. Staff will be on hand to answer questions at any point during this process. Please note that very occasionally, the system doesn’t send a test result in this timeframe but you will be able to get your result the next day (at least 24 hours after test) by calling NHS 119.

To protect privacy, staff at the test centres are not able to access results.

The type of lateral flow test being used in Halton is called Innova – it is the same test that has been used in the successful Liverpool pilot. Results of the Innova evaluation published on 11th November 2020 show: • The specificity* of the test was recorded as 99.68% – the overall false positive rate was 0.32%, although this was lowered to 0.06% in a lab setting. • The sensitivity** is 58% for all PCR-positive people when performed by self-trained individuals and 73% when performed by health care workers but detects over 95% of individuals with high viral loads, and minimal difference between the ability of the test to pick up viral antigens in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals *Specificity means the proportion of people without the disease that have a negative test. **Sensitivity means the proportion of people with a disease that have a positive test.
Eligible individuals who test positive will be entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment. For more information, including the eligibility criteria, please click here:

Grangeway Community Centre, Runcorn: Monday to Friday 8.30am – 6pm or Saturday and Sunday 10am to 2pm.

Ditton Community Centre, Widnes: Monday to Friday 8.30am – 6pm or Saturday and Sunday 10am to 2pm.


Ideally, you will need to take your own smartphone as this will help to give your information quickly and easily whilst at the testing centre and to receive your results quickly. However, it is not essential as we will have alternative arrangements in place. You will be asked to give your name, contact details and date of birth.
We have set up the test centres using the best practice from the Liverpool City pilot and should be able to get people through the test quickly. However, there may be times when people have to queue and this may also be outside, so please do wrap up warm and be prepared when you visit the centre.
Yes there is parking available at both the Grangeway Community Centre in Runcorn and the Ditton Community Centre in Widnes.
Yes both the Grangeway Community Centre and Ditton Community Centre are accessible for all.
The test centres are manned by Halton Borough Council staff who have been trained by the Army and colleagues from the Liverpool City pilot scheme.

Children can be tested, if they are under 11 their parent will need to take the swab for them. Any child or young person under the age of 18 will need to attend with their parent, so they can give consent.

From 8 March 2021, children, families and people in a childcare support bubble will be able to access testing as part of the programme to support the safe return to school for children and young people. Please refer to the FAQ relating to the schools/childcare programme for more information.

From 8 March 2021, visits to residents in care homes are allowed on a limited basis.  Lateral flow tests will be used in these care homes to reduce the risk of spread of infection to residents. Visitors will also be required to follow strict infection control procedures to protect residents including wearing Personal Protective Equipment (provided by the care home) and maintain social distancing. Please contact the relevant care home directly for details of their visiting arrangements.  A negative lateral flow test does not constitute a 'green pass' and does not change the current rules we all need to follow during national or local restrictions. Please see our website for information on the current rules - https://hbcnewsroom.co.uk/coronaadvice/ 

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.
No. All the Covid-19 tests that are part of the Smart ‘no symptom’ community testing scheme are free.

Yes. Anyone who lives or works in Halton is welcome to use our community testing centres.

In addition, many business, charities and other organisations are running their own testing programmes for staff and volunteers.

If you are interested in getting workplace testing, please find more information here - https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests.

Our public health team are also happy to support and advise further, please contact COVIDtesting@halton.gov.uk if you have any queries, feedback or you require further information.

To support the safe return of children and young people to schools and colleges starting on 8 March 2021, the Government introduced ‘no symptoms’ lateral flow testing with twice weekly tests for pupils, school staff, parents, families and those within childcare bubbles.

Pupils (Secondary School/College) and school staff will be tested using a combination of in class tests and at home kits – available via school.  Primary school pupils are not taking part in regular testing and only need to get a test if they develop symptoms – (anyone with symptoms should get a PCR test at an NHS Test Centre).

Adults in the family and childcare bubbles can access tests in a variety of ways:

  • If your workplace offers testing, please make use of that service.
  • You are also welcome to get tested at one of the ‘no symptoms’ test centres (Grangeway Community Centre, Runcorn and Ditton Community Centre, Widnes). We are also visiting communities and business parks to offer local testing where possible – see above for details
  • Collect lateral flow test kits from ‘no symptoms’ community test centres and NHS Test Centres – please check site details and times above
  • Order lateral flow test kits online to be delivered to your home (please use this option if you are not able to visit one of the sites above.)

Please see our diagram below

Yes. There are a number of places to get regular ‘no symptoms’ Covid-19 tests including:

  • Many workplaces and organisations are now offering their staff and volunteers regular tests. Please do make use of this service if it’s available to you. If your workplace is interested in setting up regular tests, more information and support to do this is available by sending an e-mail to COVIDtesting@halton.gov.uk.

  • Please look out for our community pop up test sites starting at Norton Priory - details below
    • Pop up - community testing sites -  Norton Priory - Tudor Road, Windmill Hill, Runcorn WA7 1SX, every Tuesday 1.00pm to 6.00pm