// Non-essential retailers in England can order free Covid-19 tests until end of June
// The Department for Health and Social Care said businesses of all sizes can register to order lateral flow tests for employees
// Retailers that want to order testing kits should register by March 31
Non-essential retailers across England will now be able to order free Covid-19 tests until the end of June.
The Department for Health and Social Care said businesses of all sizes, including those with fewer than 50 employees, can now register to order lateral flow tests for employees.
Lateral flow tests tend to provide results in around 30 minutes, rather than the usual 24 hours required after a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.
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Retailers that want to order testing kits should register by March 31 to access the workplace testing kits – which will remain free of charge until the end of June.
So far over 3500 businesses are signed up to offer workplace testing programmes, and over 14,000 have registered their interest in offering rapid testing, with many already rolling tests out.
“Regular workplace testing is a vital part of our route back to normal life, which is why I’m very pleased that we’re now expanding our offer of free workplace testing to businesses of all sizes, including SMEs,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
Non-essential retailers in England were told last month by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that they will be able to reopen from April 12.
The shop reopenings will be part of “step two” in the government’s lockdown exit roadmap, which will also see the opening up of all indoor leisure centres and gyms, outdoor hospitality, and personal care services such as hairdressers and nail salons.
At the time, the government said it would update its Covid-secure guidance to advise businesses on improving fresh air flow indoors and carrying out regular testing.
Meanwhile in Scotland, non-essential retailers will be allowed to reopen from April 26.
While the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last month that she expected the stay-at-home order would have to remain in place until April 5, she added that from March 15 the next phase of children returning to the classroom can take place, along with allowing up to four people or two households to meet outdoors.