Suffolk businesses are being encouraged to protect themselves by getting their staff tested for COVID-19 twice a week, as part of a new campaign launched today by Suffolk County Council.
The Yes 2 Test campaign complements the Government’s roll-out of regular rapid testing for everyone, which begins today, Friday 9 April 2021.
Businesses across Suffolk are being asked to commit to whole-staff lateral flow testing, either through testing at their workplaces or encouraging staff to sign-up for home testing kits. Many businesses have already signed up to Yes 2 Test, such as Adnams, Notcutts and Berry Global, and this number is expected to grow as lockdown measures continue to ease and premises open again. The Government’s message is those that can work from home should continue to do so, however shops, hospitality and leisure venues open from Monday.
Regular testing is vital in keeping Suffolk safe and helping us live-with and defeat Coronavirus.
Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health at Suffolk County Council, said: “Twice-weekly testing is absolutely key in making sure we break the chain of infection as quickly as possible.
“With one in three people with COVID-19 having no symptoms the virus can spread undetected and as we know, this can have a devastating impact on a workplace. Businesses have had an incredibly tough year and have adapted and changed to weather the storm – testing is another Covid measure that must be undertaken. We must say Yes 2 Test.”
There are a number of ways for staff to get tested, including testing at work or home testing kits. Business owners have until Monday 12 April (11.59pm) to register at www.gov.uk for on-site workplace testing for all staff, or to sign-up for Workplace Collect which enables staff to collect rapid test kits from work and take them home to carry out twice weekly tests. Home testing kits are also now widely available and these can be accessed either by ordering online, collection from community testing sites, some pharmacies and PCR testing sites at designated times.
Suffolk County Council’s mobile community teams are available to support workplaces with setting up testing on site. The teams also run Test & Collect engagement days at workplaces to help familiarise staff with how to test at home, report their tests and provide an initial supply of kits for staff to take home prior to delivery of the Government’s Workplace Collect orders. For information or to book a team email firstname.lastname@example.org
Suffolk’s business owners and managing directors are invited to sign-up to become ambassadors of Yes 2 Test and share their experiences of implementing whole-site testing or incorporating regular testing into their job requirements. For information about workplace testing in Suffolk visit www.yes2test.co.uk.
Many East Suffolk businesses and organisations are already supporting Yes 2 Test.
Sadie Lofthouse, Director of Culture & Performance, Adnams, said: “From the very beginning of the pandemic we have had three clear goals. To keep our employees, our customers and our local communities safe, to protect a business that’s 150 years old and to save as many jobs as possible.
“One of the key things we can do to continue with those three goals is to make the best use of Lateral Flow Tests. We were able to put some really good measures in place as we made all of our sites Covid-secure, but it’s inevitable that as we get busier and have more people on site, our teams will come into contact with each other and customers more – even with social distancing in place.
“By asking everyone to test twice a week we are increasing the chance of picking up the asymptomatic cases or those with very mild symptoms and we can then ensure those people are supported to stay at home until they test clear again. We believe this will give employees, customers and the communities in which we’re based the confidence to start to return to a way of life that is much more normal than we’ve all had to get used to in the past 12 months.”
Ashley Skelly, Production Director at Herrco Cosmetics, said: “We’ve conducted over 4,000 tests since January. Whilst the vast majority of results were negative, we have experienced a small number of positives who were immediately sent home and told to self-isolate. These tests not only keep us safe, but provide all of our employees confidence to continue working with their colleagues who are virus-free.
“Due to frequent testing, alongside additional measures, we have been able to continue operating our manufacturing business – this would not have been possible without having implemented our very successful on-site testing programme.”
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Testing is an important tool in preventing the spread of coronavirus and we would encourage all businesses to take up the offer of free tests for their employees.
“As well as protecting the health of your staff and customers by identifying cases in those with on symptoms, it can minimise disruption to your business which could occur if large numbers of staff need to self-isolate.”
There are a number of ways that employees can get tested:
1) At work
This can be done in two ways. Either the workplace has signed up on gov.uk to set up on-site workplace testing for all staff or it has signed up for Workplace Collect which enables staff to collect rapid test kits from work and take them home to carry out twice weekly tests. The deadline to sign up for either of these is April 12.
2) At home
You can access home testing kits in the following ways: