There is a new government drive to increase workplace testing in sectors open during lockdown, to detect Covid-19 in people who are not showing symptoms. The criteria for joining the workplace testing programme have been reduced to businesses with more than 50 employees, with the aim of boosting the availability of rapid testing.
An online portal has been launched to make it even easier for businesses in the private sector to get involved and find out more about offering rapid testing in the workplace.
The government is encouraging organisations across different sectors that are vital to the running of the country and where employees cannot work from home during lockdown to sign up to rapid testing programmes that identify cases of Covid-19 in employees who are not showing symptoms.
The government believes that this will help stop the spread of coronavirus and ensure vital public and economic services can continue.
Many employers have already taken up the offer of rapid, regular workforce testing, with 112 organisations in the UK across almost 500 sites joining the rapid testing programme.
Reducing the criteria to join from businesses with more than 250 employees, to businesses with more than 50 employees hugely increases the number of different businesses that are able to sign up, so that small and medium size companies can benefit from rapid testing.
Around one in three people who have Covid-19 have no symptoms and may be unknowingly spreading the virus. The expansion of testing will find more positive cases, keeping workers who cannot work from home unknowingly passing on the virus and protecting vital public services.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “To save lives and protect the NHS, we have again asked for everyone to work from home. But we know that for some this is not possible, which is why the workplace rapid testing programme is so important.
“Employers should regularly test their staff, and this drive across government to raise awareness and encourage more businesses to introduce rapid testing for employees is incredibly important. When you consider that around one in three people have the virus without symptoms and could potentially infect people without even knowing it, it becomes clear why focusing testing on those without symptoms is so essential.
“We are already working with many employers to scale up workforce testing, spanning the food industry, retail sector, transport network, and across the public sector too. I strongly urge businesses and employees across the country to take up this offer of rapid testing to help stop this virus spreading further.”
NHS Test & Trace is supporting organisations to deliver scalable asymptomatic testing through the provision of a digital solution, clinical protocol, supply of tests kits, guidance, training and framework for delivery.
Tests are currently being provided free to both public and private sector employers until at least 31 March 2021. The government’s support will be kept under review and it will engage with employers before any changes to the support offer are made.
You can find more information on getting a test for if you do not have symptoms on the government website.
Register to order your workplace testing kits here: https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests.