Staff to be offered free rapid covid tests as workplace scheme expands

Young woman taking a Covid-19 test at the pharmacy.

The government is to expand their workplace testing programme to offer rapid home tests to staff. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Employers across Norfolk and Waveney will be able to offer workers free, rapid and regular home covid tests as part of a major push in the government's workplace testing programme.

From Tuesday, April 6, the workplace testing programme will supply home test kits to companies with more than 10 employees where it is not possible to set up testing on-site.

Businesses across the country will be able to offer the home tests kits online to distribute to employees, which can be collected by staff with instructions on how to take the tests and report their results online.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street - Credit: PA

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: "Rapid testing is a vital part of our roadmap, helping us to cautiously lift restrictions on our economy and society.

"Around one in three people with coronavirus do not have any symptoms, so extending employee testing from the workplace to the home will help us identify more cases we otherwise wouldn't find, prevent further transmission and save lives.

"60,000 businesses across the country have already registered for free, regular and rapid tests and I encourage many more to take up the offer, helping to keep their employees and their families safe."

The programme uses lateral flow tests (LFD) to detect the virus in 30 minutes, with businesses encouraged to register before April 12 in order to access free tests until the end of June, regardless of whether they are currently open or need to start using the tests immediately.

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Matthew Fell, CBI chief UK policy director, said: "Mass, rapid workplace testing is an essential pillar of the roadmap for reopening, alongside the vaccine rollout.

"Having the option for staff to test at home will enable more firms to embrace workplace testing, as not all employers will have the space or facilities to run testing programmes on their premises.

“The move to home testing reflects ongoing, high quality dialogue between business and government and we’d encourage as many firms as possible to register before the 12 April deadline, as part of their broader efforts to keep staff and customers safe.”

It comes after more than 4,000 people took part in a rapid testing scheme around Norfolk, which found 33 positive tests, while 

Monday will see the latest easing of lockdown restrictions, although police have urged people to be "sensible and cautious".