31 March 2022

Visitors to prisons will no longer be required to take Covid tests from Friday 1 April.

HMPPS is making this change because regular Covid testing in the wider community is coming to an end, and testing kits will no longer be provided for free in the community after 31 March. These changes are part of the Government’s plans to move forward from the pandemic and start to live with Covid.

However, if there is an outbreak in a prison, or we receive advice from health experts about a change in risk of infection, we may have to bring testing before visits back again. If this happens, we will communicate it to prisoners’ families and significant others as soon as possible, and free test kits will be offered at prisons.

Other safety measures for visits, such as social distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing, are being kept in place nationally for now because the number of Covid infections in the community is still quite high.

We will also still encourage all visitors to take a test before going to a prison if they can access one.

Visitors who take a test that shows a positive result will not be able to go in for the visit.

We also ask that people showing symptoms or who have recently been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid do not come to the prison until these subside.

The symptoms are available on Gov.UK: COVID-19: people with COVID-19 and their contacts - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If a visit does need to be cancelled for any of these reasons, there are other ways to stay in touch such as secure social video calls, letters and telephone calls. Any visits that can’t take place will be re-booked at the earliest opportunity.

Staying in touch with someone in prison: Letters, video and telephone calls - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)