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Government to offer free COVID-19 tests for every retailer in England

Tom Shearsmith
09 March 2021

The Government has confirmed non-essential retailers across England will be able to order free lateral flow COVID-19 tests for their staff until the end of June 2021.

Workplace testing is now available to all businesses, including those with fewer than 50 employees, with businesses encouraged to register interest by 31 March to the free testing.

Lateral flow tests tend to provide results in around 30 minutes, rather than the usual 24 hours required after a PCR test.

So far over 3,500 businesses are signed up to offer workplace testing programmes, and over 14,000 have registered their interest in offering rapid testing, with many already rolling tests out.

Federation of Small Business Chairman, Mike Cherry, said: "A workplace testing infrastructure that works for businesses of all sizes as well as consumers is fundamental to bringing Coronavirus under control and ensuring that this current lockdown is the last. It’s great to see that the smallest businesses can now apply to set-up testing facilities on their premises.

"It’s vital that they are given all the support they need to do so successfully as they focus on staying afloat in extremely changing circumstances. We’d encourage all small firms that would benefit from a testing facility to apply as swiftly as they can."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last month that non-essential retailers in England will be able to reopen from 12 April, marking step two in the Government's lockdown exit roadmap.

Confederation of British Industry Chief UK Policy Director, Matthew Fell, added: "Businesses appreciate that regular mass testing can play a vital role in a safe re-opening, helping to build staff confidence and adding a layer of resilience to help firms stay open.

"The CBI will continue to work with our members and with government to ensure firms have the knowledge and support they need to engage with testing opportunities. Increasing take-up will be vital if we are to meet the timetable set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap and safely loosen restrictions for summer."

An online portal has been launched for businesses to find out more about offering rapid workplace testing, with businesses being provided with all the information they need to plan and deliver a testing programme, along with promotional materials.

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