In the next major push for the Government’s workplace testing programme, all employers will now be able to offer their employees free, rapid and regular testing that can be taken at home.
Over 60,000 businesses across the country have already registered their interest to provide rapid tests to key workers. From 6 April, the workplace testing programme will supply home test kits to companies with over ten workers where it is not possible to set up testing on-site, due to a lack of space or because companies operate across multiple sites.
Businesses across the country will be eligible to order the home test kits online to distribute to their employees. These self-test kits will be picked up by staff from their employer with clear instructions about how to take the test. Staff will then complete the home test in the normal way, before reporting their results to the NHS using the provided gov.uk address.
The workplace testing programme uses lateral flow tests (LFD) to rapidly detect the virus in 30 minutes. Swift detection of cases means those who test positive can isolate immediately and, in doing so, break chains of transmission and suppress the virus.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Businesses are encouraged to register before 12 April in order to access free tests until the end of June, even if they’re not yet open or are not able to start using the tests straight away.
As well as reporting their result directly to the NHS, employees should advise their employer of a positive result and take a confirmatory PCR test. Employers will retain an important role in encouraging their employees to take and report the results of their test.
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said:
Employers with fewer than 10 people can alternatively access regular testing through the community testing programme, which is now offered by all local authorities in England. Work is also underway to allow staff of small businesses to order tests online to be sent to their home.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium said:
Testing will form a crucial part of everyday life as parts of society reopen. Regular testing could be the difference between a workplace being able to stay open and operational, or needing to close due to a Covid-19 outbreak. For many employers on-site testing has already become an essential part of its employee offer and a routine part of working life.
Around one in three people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus in workplaces without knowing.
Regular, rapid testing is already in place for millions of people across the NHS, care homes and schools. The government has also confirmed twice-weekly home testing using lateral flow tests for free to all adults in households with primary, secondary school and college aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles.
This is in addition to the two home tests for all secondary and college students and staff per week. Staff in primary schools, and in private, voluntary and independent nurseries also have access to rapid testing through their workplace.
The announcement comes as a new set of statistics published on Friday, by the Official of National Statistics (ONS), revealed 86% of people testing positive for coronavirus are fully complying with self-isolation guidance for their full isolation period.
Data also showed 90% of the contacts reached by NHS Test and Trace are fully adhering with the rules and that 97% of NHS COVID-19 app users started to self-isolate within 24 hours of receiving a notification. The majority of respondents (68%) also fully understood the self-isolation guidance. Of people who did not fully comply, the most common breaches were to buy food, get medicines or medical appointments.
BT Chief Medical Officer, Dr Richard Caddis said:
Eastwood Park CEO John Thatcher said: