Most Britons would still self-isolate if they tested positive for coronavirus, but the majority would only test themselves if it continued to be free
As part of the ‘living with Covid’ plans announced by the government, universal access to free lateral flow tests will be removed on 1 April. Boots have announced that their tests will cost £5.99 for one test or £17 for a pack of four, which provoked criticism that the expense of testing would price out lower-paid workers from keeping themselves and their families safe.
A new YouGov / Times survey reveals that most Britons would not test themselves for Covid-19 if the tests were not free to take.
The majority of Britons would only take a test to confirm coronavirus symptoms if they were free
More than half (57%) of Britons say they would take a test if they had symptoms of Covid-19, but only if the test was free. Just one in four (24%) would still test if they had to pay for the privilege, and 13% would not take a test if they had symptoms of Covid-19 regardless of whether the tests were free or not.
Labour voters are more likely than Conservative voters to say they would only test if the tests were free, by 62% to 53%. However, this does not translate into Conservative voters saying they would test even if they had to pay: more Tory voters (15%) than Labour voters (9%) would not test at all if they developed coronavirus symptoms.
How much would Britons be willing to pay for Covid tests?
For those Britons who would test if they had to pay, the most common answer for how much they would be willing to hand over for single test was “up to £5”, which a figure equivalent to 12% of the general population picked*, followed by “up to £1”, at 6%, suggesting Boots’ price point of £5.99 per test is too much for most of those otherwise willing to pay for them.
A further 4% would fork out “up to £10” for a single test, with just 1% saying they would pay more than £10.
Young people are less likely to stay at home if they test positive for coronavirus
While the government is no longer legally requiring people to self-isolate if they test positive for Covid-19, chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty has said that public health guidance is still advising people to stay home if they contract the virus, just as you would be advised to stay home if you have the flu.
Almost eight in 10 Britons (78%) say they would still self-isolate if they tested positive for coronavirus, including half (48%) who say they ‘definitely’ would isolate. Just 16% of the public say they would not self-isolate if they tested positive for the virus.
Younger Britons are much more likely than older ones to say they would not stay at home if they contracted coronavirus. A fifth (22%) of Britons aged 18 to 24 say they would not self-isolate if they tested positive, compared with just 7% of those aged over 65.
Women are more likely than men to say they would isolate if they tested positive, by 82% to 74%.
*Only those who said that they would be willing to pay for a Covid-19 test were asked how much they would be willing to pay for a single test. For simplicity, the results have been recalculated to show them as a percentage of the entire population.
See full results here