Action to focus Test and Protect on those at highest risk

Priority given to essential workers and those most at risk.

Essential workers, those at highest risk and anyone eligible for new COVID treatments will be prioritised for a PCR test site slot. 

This measure is being taken to ensure timely access to PCR testing, as rising rates of COVID-19 infections are resulting in increasing demand.

It is vital that essential workers get the test results they need to qualify for a prompt exemption from self-isolation. However testing remains available for anyone who needs it.

Test & Protect will also focus resources on those most at risk of harm. This means most people will be contacted by text message or email – with contact tracers prioritising telephone calls to those linked to higher risk settings such as hospitals and care homes.  

People should respond to the text or email message, and complete the online form provided, so close contacts can receive the advice they need as quickly as possible.

Updating Parliament today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The current surge in cases means testing capacity - sampling and processing - is under pressure. So we are now prioritising some slots for essential workers – such as NHS and transport staff – as well as for those who are clinically vulnerable or eligible for new Covid treatments. This ensures that essential workers will get the test results they need to qualify for an exemption promptly.

“This is a sensible step to take at this stage. However, notwithstanding this priority for essential workers, let me stress that testing remains available for anyone who needs it.

“If you try to book a test, and can’t find a slot in a location you can get to, do try again later. Additional PCR slots are released throughout the day.

“Test & Protect is also, for now, focusing its telephone tracing on high risk settings, such as care homes. The majority of us, if we test positive, will be contacted by text or e-mail, rather than by phone. If you are contacted by Test & Protect - either as a positive case or a close contact - please respond and complete the online form, and make sure you follow all advice given.”


Self-isolation exemption scheme guidance is available for essential workers.

An investment of £33.1 million was announced last month to safeguard the future of Scotland's contact tracing workforce of more than 500. The change to PCR prioritisation for test site booking slots will not affect booking a PCR home test.

Information about the new COVID-19 treatments and the eligibility criteria is available at

People on the highest risk list, and those who are eligible for new COVID treatments should tick that they are an essential worker to ensure prioritised access to booking a PCR test.   


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