The government must end the requirement for most care home visitors to provide proof of a negative lateral flow test from April 1.
According to new guidelines issued alongside a written statement from Health Secretary Sajid Javid, most visitors to adult social care settings will no longer be required to take a test, with access to free tests ending for the majority of people from the beginning of next month.
Asymptomatic testing will continue for staff in certain high-risk settings, including adult social care services such as care homes or hospices.
The Department of Health and Social Care has also announced that the outbreak management period for care homes, which may include restrictions on visitors, will be reduced from two weeks to 10 days.
Those who should remain eligible for access to free testing include patients in hospitals where a PCR test may be required for their care or access to treatment, people eligible for community covid treatment because they are at greater risk high levels of serious illness from contracting covid, and those who live or work in high-risk environments.
DHSC announced that the cost of the changes would be covered by existing funding agreements.
However, the free parking scheme set up for NHS workers during the pandemic is due to end on March 31 to raise funds to support the new guidelines.
Mr Javid said: “Through our Covid plan, we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus. We have made tremendous progress, but we will retain the ability to respond to future threats, including potential variants.
Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “As we learn to live with Covid, we are focusing our testing offer on those most at risk of serious consequences from the virus while encouraging people to continue to follow simple steps to help keep themselves and others safe.”
The LGA has been approached for comment.