All essential workers in England, including farmers and food chain workers, can now get tested for Covid-19 if they are showing symptoms, the government has announced.
The increased access to testing will allow symptomatic essential workers and their families to get tested and return to work if their test is negative.
A range of testing methods is being rolled out to increase accessibility, the government says, including home testing kits, mobile testing sites and satellite testing kits.
Employers can now register and refer self-isolating staff online and staff can book a test for themselves or members of their family if they are displaying symptoms – a high temperature or new continuous cough.
Essential workers will receive a text or email the same day inviting them to either book an appointment at one of 30 drive-through testing sites across the country, or receive a home-testing kit.
Test results from drive-through sites will be sent by text within 48 hours, and 72 hours of collection for home delivery tests.
The government is coming under increasing pressure to meet its target of 100,000 tests a day by 30th April.
Secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock said: “We are making it easier, faster and simpler for any essential worker in England who needs a test to get a test…
“This all applies for people in essential workers’ households who need a test too. It’s all part of getting Britain back on her feet.”
The news has been welcomed by farming organisations including the National Pig Association. Chief executive Zoe Davies said it is “excellent news”, adding: “This is something we have pushed really hard for and it is very good to see these tests have been made available to farmers and the wider food supply chain.
“If things go according to plan, this will hopefully help ease some of the concerns about staffing that have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.”