Community News

Community ‘surge testing’ starts in response to COVID-19 variant

Main image: Mobile hub for surge testing at Imperial Park which opened on Sunday 7 February.

COVID-19 community ‘surge testing’ has started for certain postcodes – including parts of the Filwood ward – in response to 11 cases of a mutated variant in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

The Department for Health and Social Care is providing the additional community testing over the next two weeks to help find out more about the mutation of the Kent variant in the area.

This will also help reduce the spread of infection by finding asymptomatic cases and prompting people to self-isolate.

Three mobile testing hubs opened yesterday (7 February) with thousands of people being tested at Imperial Retail Park in Hartcliffe Way, Bristol City Council Testing Centre and Bristol & Bath Science Park in Emersons Green.

Surge testing at Imperial Park with tents set up and COVID Marshalls on duty.

There will also be a roll-out of additional mobile testing units where people can collect and return test kits as well as delivery to homes in some areas.   

What to expect at mobile testing hubs

The one-off testing will use PCR tests, which involve a swab of the nose and throat – but unlike lateral flow tests (also known as rapid tests), they are sent off to laboratories to be analysed.

Results can take up to five days to come, but most arrive within 24 hours and will be sent via text or email through NHS Test and Trace.

Resident Charlie (39) who went to Imperial Park on Sunday with her family said: “The estimated results timetable was given as five days but got our results in under 15 hours.

“There is currently no help to perform the test on site – unlike other tests where they can swab you. You can test under 16s if you want to – we did a toddler.

“At the moment it is a drop-in by car or by foot at Imperial Park. The on-foot waiting area is right by moving traffic with no kerb (opposite Next). It can get fairly crowded there and if you can avoid taking children I would.

“If you do not have an appointment you need to register the test afterwards yourself. 

“The queue for drive-up tests yesterday was around an hour.

“If you are a walk-up tester you will test at a table outside by yourself. It would be advisable to bring a mirror to see tonsils and also warm clothes as it is unshielded from the elements.

“Tables and chairs are very lightweight so people who are heavier or who need things to lean on to get in and out of a chair should bear this in mind – we saw someone topple a chair trying to get up yesterday. 

“If they run out of tests the police deliver another load and the advice is to wait in the queue unless told otherwise. The delivery time was two hours yesterday but this may not be a standard length. Hopefully they won’t run out again.

“Once you are next in line, someone flashes up a card in front of the windshield with a mobile phone number on it which you must call to be given test instructions. You should therefore have a phone with you which is charged and has credit on it to make the call (standard 07 mobile rates).”

Who can get tested

You can get a test at one of the new mobile test sites or collect and drop centres if all of the following apply: 

  • You’re over 16 
  • You live in one of the postcode areas below 
  • You do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 (you’re ‘asymptomatic’) 

You can also get a test if you: 

  • Travel into these postcode areas for work 
  • Are in a support bubble with someone in these postcode areas 

People who have been vaccinated can still take a test. You only need one test in the two-week period.

Postcode sectors which are being offered additional community testing are:

BS1 3

BS2 0

BS2 8

BS2 9

BS3 5

BS4 4

BS5 6

BS5 7

BS6 5

BS8 2

BS9 4

BS5 0

BS6 6

BS14 9

BS16 1

BS16 2

BS16 3

BS16 5

BS16 6

BS16 7

BS16 9

BS37 8

BS8 3 (only within Bristol City Council boundary – check yours at

BS14 0 (only within Bristol City Council boundary – check yours at

The three testing units are open from 9am to 3pm at Imperial Park and Bristol City Council hub in Wellington Road – and from 9am to 4pm at Emerson’s Green.

You should not come for a test if you:
  • Are self-isolating after a positive coronavirus test, or have been told to by NHS Test and Trace 
  • Have symptoms of coronavirus 
  • Do not live or work in or have a support bubble with someone in one of the listed postcodes, even if you’ve met up with someone who does 
  • Are shielding, ask someone to get you a test from one of the collect and drop sites 

More information on the additional community testing programme can be found on the Bristol City Council website.

Watch the video about surge community testing: