Small Business Minister Paul Scully says the move will open up testing to businesses in which workplace testing is impractical and also to the many hospitality businesses that are closed and want to ensure their workforce is Coronavirus-free prior to reopening.
From 6 April, the workplace testing programme will supply home test kits to companies with more than 10 workers. Employees must register by 12 April, with free workplace testing and home test kits provided until the end of June.
Some 60,000 business have already signed up for workplace testing, which is facilitated by lateral flow tests that can detect the virus in 30 minutes.
“Twice weekly rapid testing plays a critical role in safer working and stopping the spread of the virus,” says Scully. “One in three people with Coronavirus don’t have symptoms, and are therefore unlikely to get tested or self-isolate.”
“That means the can spread the virus around workplaces without knowing it. That’s why this testing is vital to the resilience of businesses.”
Scully has reiterated that the social contact restriction when hospitality reopens for outdoor dining will remain as they are now until at least 17 May. As of today, people are able to meet in groups up to a maximum of six people or with one other household with people from different households having to socially distance from each other.
He also acknowledges that the hospitality sector and hospitality employees has been “particularly hard-pressed” by the pandemic.
“I’m glad that we’re going to get hospitality open in some way in April. I know businesses won’t be returning to profit in real terms until June,” he says. “We want to make hospitality more resilient so are working on a strategy that’s more long-term. We want to make it a more attractive career and create good career paths for as many people as possible, young people especially.”
The Government has also acknowledged that the wait for further details on what operating restrictions will be in place as businesses reopen for outdoor trading - including whether customers will be allowed to order inside - is not ideal given the implication for staffing they may have.
BigHospitality understands that the Government is currently sense checking the guidance with the sector in an attempt to avoid the implementation of controversial measures such as curfews and the substantial meal rule, which have both now been ruled out.
It is understood that with the exception of those two measures, it is not the Government’s intention to drastically change the guidance that was in place prior to England’s most recent lockdown.