Workplace COVID testing is now being offered to smaller companies in the UK whose staff cannot work from home during lockdown, the government has announced.
Previously, businesses with more than 250 staff were able to access lateral flow tests, but the threshold has now been changed to more than 50 employees.
The tests can produce results in less than 30 minutes.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.”
Marta Kalas, co-founder of testing management specialist Thomson Screening, said the change in testing criteria means many more businesses, from a much wider range of sectors, would now be able to take part.
“There is, of course, some concern from small business owners about how much extra administration this new test will require: employers will need to ensure that testing is fair, systematic and in compliance with data privacy legislation.
“So, will small businesses regard this as an extra overhead and struggle to comply or will they embrace this opportunity to keep their employees safe?
“The answer depends on how simple and easy it is to manage the process. School and nursing homes have already found that they have had to divert resources simply to keep track of all the testing, as well as uploading results to the NHS Track & Trace.
“Fortunately, the government (through Innovate UK) has brought forward a solution to this problem by funding the development of the ‘WorkScreener COVID Manager’ that manages the entire process with a few clicks, supports bulk uploading of testing data and puts control and information into the hands of managers of SMEs regarding their workforce’s safety.”