Thursday, March 30, 2023

COVID-19: 48,000 Businesses Sign Up for Rapid Testing

Mr. Hancock said it marked a “huge step forward” in getting businesses “back on their feet” and keeping people safe.

Businesses of all sizes can register to order lateral flow tests for their workers until 31 March.

The rapid tests can give results in less than 30 minutes, and they will be free to businesses until 30 June.

The hope is that asymptomatic cases can be detected quickly, thereby preventing workplace outbreaks.

Regular testing is “essential to bearing down on the virus,” the health secretary added.

“I strongly encourage all businesses to register their interest before the 31 March deadline,” Mr. Hancock said.

The wider availability of the rapid flow tests is part of government policy to ensure all kinds of workplaces are able to operate safely as lockdown measures continue to be eased.

And it comes in conjunction with the increased use of testing as schools reopened on Monday – in the first step of the government’s road map out of lockdown. Pupils and staff at secondary schools and colleges – plus their family members – are now being tested twice a week.

That schools programme, combined with the wider use of workplace testing, has seen the total number of Covid tests carried out in the UK jump from about 500,000 a day in mid-February to more than 1.5 million on three days this week.

Initially, only businesses with 250 or more employees were eligible to access lateral flow tests. This was reduced to 50 last month.

The scheme was then expanded last week to all businesses in England, including those with fewer than 50 employees.

Businesses previously welcomed the wider rollout of workplace testing.

Mike Cherry, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said helping businesses to introduce testing was “fundamental to bringing the coronavirus under control,” while Matthew Fell, Confederation of British Industry chief UK policy director, said businesses appreciated the role mass testing could play “in a safe re-opening.”