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The Beacon in Wantage becomes location for COVID-19 symptom-free testing programme

From 23 February The Beacon in Wantage will become a Covid-19 testing site for public-facing workers and volunteers who are not displaying symptoms. 

People in these roles who cannot work from home and do not have access to workplace testing will be able to book a free test at the centre via the county council’s online booking system (update – the booking system has now closed). Tests take only 15 minutes with results available within an hour. 

South and Vale district councils have worked closely with partners across Oxfordshire to help set up this rapid symptom-free testing site to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and vital social care services, and ultimately to save lives. 

Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 have no symptoms but can still pass it on and so regular testing of public-facing workers will help to stop the spread of the virus.  

Oxfordshire County Council is working with Public Health England to run three sites across the county with support from the district councils. Employees from Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue were the first to be tested at the centre, followed by early years workers and council staff in key public-facing roles. 

Cllr Helen Pighills, Vale of White Horse District Council Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities, said: “We’re really pleased to have been able to put forward The Beacon, along with over a dozen staff from the South and Vale district councils, to help with this vital part of the local response to the pandemic. I’m also delighted that the programme has been expanded to include all public-facing workers much earlier than originally anticipated. 

“I strongly encourage all those who leave home to work or volunteer to get a test as soon as you can. There is financial support available for workers who test positive and therefore have to self-isolate. Our Community Hub is also on hand for anyone struggling to access food or facing financial hardship.” 

The 15-minute test being used is a lateral flow test which involves taking a swab of the back of the throat and inside the nose. The swab is then given to trained staff at the test centre who process the test on-site. Results are given within an hour by text message or by email. Anybody who tests positive is provided with detailed information of how to self-isolate, along with advice on the support that is available for them through their isolation period. 

The Beacon is an arts and community centre in Wantage which is run by the district council but has been closed to the public during the pandemic. It will be used as a symptom-free test centre for as long as is required to help stop the spread of Covid-19. 


Notes to editors: 

A positive result will trigger the legal duty to self-isolate and to follow the national guidance. A self-isolation information pack / has been prepared to help provide individuals with advice and sources of support. 

Call our Community Hub on 01235 422600 if you need support or complete the vale online form or south online form

The Community Support team is available from: 

  • 8.30am-5pm Monday to Thursday 
  • 8.30am-4.30pm on Fridays