The UK government and the devolved nations have announced changes to the restrictions, COVID-19 testing and guidance for staying safe. Here, we summarise the changes and what they might mean for people living with Crohn’s or Colitis.
Updated guidance and regulations:
From 1 April in England, free COVID-19 testing for the general public ends. Free tests for people who have COVID-19 symptoms will continue to be provided to the following groups:
If you are not in one of the groups listed here but you wish to test yourself for COVID-19, lateral flow tests will continue to be available to buy, in-store and online, from pharmacies and supermarkets.
Changes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Wales: From 1 April, people can no longer order free lateral flow tests unless they have symptoms of COVID-19. All PCR testing sites for the general public will close.
Scotland: Until 18 April, lateral flow tests are still available for everyone, and PCR tests are available for people who have symptoms. After 18 April, updated guidance will be published on NHS Inform.
Northern Ireland: Until 22 April, anyone in Northern Ireland can continue to access free lateral flow tests. From 22 April, people can no longer order free lateral flow tests unless they have symptoms of COVID-19. All PCR testing sites for the general public will close.
We are continuing to speak to the UK and devolved governments to make sure the concerns of people with Crohn’s and Colitis are addressed as the rules change.
Find out more about the main changes in each nation, and what we are doing to support you, below.
The UK government published its COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 plan for England on 21 February.
In the plan, the government set out how restrictions are being removed. Instead, people are encouraged to take personal responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe. These are the main changes.
From 24 February:
From 1 April:
On 15 February, the Northern Ireland government removed all legal restrictions relating to COVID-19. Instead, the rules have been replaced by guidance.
The Scottish government published its COVID-19 Strategic Framework Update on 22 February. Here are the main changes.
From 28 February:
From around 21 March:
From 1 April:
The Scottish government also updated its guidance for people at higher risk from COVID-19 on 30 March.
The Welsh government has issued Public health advice for living alongside coronavirus.
Recent and upcoming changes are:
From 28 March:
From 1 April:
From 18 April:
We understand that some of you might be feeling anxious that restrictions are being relaxed.
We know a lot more about COVID-19 now than we did at the start of the pandemic. There is reassuring evidence that most people with Crohn’s and Colitis are not at higher risk of getting COVID-19 or having more serious illness because of their treatment. Your risk is higher if you are in a flare or having steroid treatment. So it is important to keep taking your Crohn’s and Colitis medicines to help keep your condition under control as much as possible. It is also important to have all the vaccine doses you are offered.
Some people might be worried about being exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. At the moment, the advice for people at higher risk from COVID-19 varies slightly between the four nations.
If you cannot work from home, or if you are worried about going into your workplace, talk to your employer about what they can do to reduce your risk. We have more information about COVID, work and finances.
Some people might find it reassuring that they, and their family and friends, can take a lateral flow test before meeting up. So you might feel concerned that access to free lateral flow tests is ending in some nations. The government has said that people who are at the highest risk from COVID-19 will still be able to access free lateral flow testing. They have not yet announced exactly who will be eligible or how they will access these tests. We will update our information when further details are available. We do not yet have details on whether this affects how people access early treatment for COVID-19.
People who are not eligible for free testing will be able to buy lateral flow tests from pharmacies or shops if they would like to. Pharmacies have said they will cost around £2 to £2.50 for a single test or £10 to £12 for a pack of five.
People who are over 75, people who live in care homes for older adults, and over 12s who have weakened immune systems will be offered a spring booster. We have separate information about this.
We are continuing to speak to the UK and devolved governments to make sure the concerns of people with Crohn’s and Colitis are addressed. We are working to clarify which people with Crohn’s and Colitis are included in the higher risk group. As part of a group of charities, we are asking that those people who are at higher risk:
Are identified quickly and reliably so they can get the information and support they need.
We are also calling for:
Find the latest government guidance where you live:
If you need support, we have put together some information and links to help you cope and improve your wellbeing:
We know it can be difficult to live with, or support someone living with these conditions. But you’re not alone. We provide up-to-date, evidence-based information and can support you to live well with Crohn’s or Colitis.
Our helpline team can provide information on a range of subjects including:
Please contact us via telephone, email or LiveChat - 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (except English bank holidays).
If you need specific medical advice about your condition, your GP or IBD team will be best placed to help.