Returning to the workplace – what COVID testing options are open to Oxfordshire businesses?
As England begins to emerge from the current national lockdown through a series of ‘steps’, many businesses in Oxfordshire will be considering how they can also put measures in-place to support a safe return to the work place.
Earlier this week, Oxfordshire’s director of public health, Ansaf Azhar, wrote to Oxfordshire businesses informing them of the various free rapid COVID-19 testing options. Around one in three people with coronavirus have no symptoms, so regular testing is an important tool to help stop the spread of the virus in Oxfordshire and support the county to return to the workplace for their employees.
It also helps identify and self-isolate those who are unaware they are carrying the virus, which protects colleagues, customers and communities alike.
There are two main ways in which businesses can access symptom-free testing: workplace testing and community testing. Here’s a summary below:
Businesses of any size can sign-up to the Government’s free coronavirus workplace testing programme, which provides free lateral flow tests for employees who cannot work from home. Previously this scheme was only open to businesses with 50 or more employees, but – as of 6 March – this scheme became available to all businesses in Oxfordshire.
Businesses are being encouraged to register their interest by 31 March to benefit from free tests until the end of June.
If you do not have workplace testing in place, a business whose staff need to leave home to work can take advantage of Oxfordshire’s symptom-free testing programme. Those employees can get a free rapid test as part of Oxfordshire County Council’s symptom-free testing programme.
The county council is working in partnership with the city and district councils to provide rapid testing in locations across the county.
These are the current locations:
- Spiceball Leisure Centre in Banbury (OX16 2BW)
- The Beacon in Wantage (OX12 9BX)
- The King’s Centre in Oxford (OX2 0ES)
Tests take just 15 minutes to complete using a lateral flow device and it involves taking a swab of the back of the throat and inside the nose. The swab is then given to trained staff at the test centre, who process the test on-site.
Results are given within an hour by text message or email. Anyone who tests positive is told to self-isolate and follow the national guidance.
As the local enterprise partnership for Oxfordshire, we continue to encourage businesses to be as proactive as possible to seek any support that is needed, whether via existing government schemes or indeed the support and advice we are able to offer.