Employers in Wolverhampton are being urged to move quickly and sign up for support – including financial help – to provide routine Covid-19 testing for their workforce.

Businesses with 10 or more staff have until Monday 12 April to register for free on site rapid Covid-19 testing or free rapid home test kits via the Government’s workplace testing scheme.

Employers of all sizes in Wolverhampton can also apply for Business Testing Grants of up to £10,000 to enable their workforce to access regular testing. The deadline to apply for this is Friday 30 April.

The Government’s workplace testing scheme gives businesses 2 ways in which they can provide testing for their staff. The first is through onsite testing, with test kits, support, training and standard operating procedures provided by NHS Test and Trace. 

Alternatively, businesses will be able to order free rapid kits for employees to use at home – but only if they cannot provide testing in the workplace and staff cannot work from home.

For details of either option, and to register, please visit GOV.UK by 12 April. Businesses with between 10 and 50 staff which want to register for home test kits should email p-and-psector@dhsc.gov.uk in the first instance. If your business is closed or you cannot provide tests now, you should still register so you can do so in the future.

Business Testing Grants are available to any organisation in Wolverhampton which commits to over 75% of its workforce being tested twice a week. A grant of £500 is available to businesses with 1 or 2 employees, £2,000 is available to those with between 3 and 49 employees, businesses with 50 to  249 staff can apply for a grant of £5,000 and a grant of £10,000 is available to those employing 250 workers or more.

The grant is intended to encourage businesses to embrace rapid testing and to help with any costs this might entail, for instance with PPE and cleaning for on site testing and time away from work for staff attending off site testing.

Subject to meeting the eligibility criteria, businesses will receive 25% of the grant when they apply and the remaining 75% after they demonstrate they have met their weekly commitment to get 75% of staff tested twice a week up to the end of June. For more details and to apply, please visit Business Testing Grant by 30 April. 

Meanwhile, sole traders, the self employed and people working for local businesses of any size are encouraged to get a regular test, either at the mobile test unit which is at Bantock Park this week or at rapid test sites at the Civic Centre, The Jamia Masjid Bilal, Pendeford Library, The Hub at Ashmore Park and St Joseph’s Church. 

Booking is not essential, but specific slots allowing employees to access a test at a convenient time without having to wait can be reserved up to 5 days in advance at Lateral Flow Testing for Businesses

Richard Lawrence, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Director of Regeneration, said: “A third of people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms of it and could therefore spread the virus onto others unknowingly. Regular testing of employees will help track down these cases and prevent onward transmission.

"We want all employers in Wolverhampton to ensure that staff members who cannot work from home access rapid testing twice weekly, either at our public test centres or in the workplace. If you are planning to sign up for the Government's workplace testing scheme or to apply for a Business Testing Grant, please hurry as the deadlines are 12 April and 30 April respectively."

Businesses with questions about rapid testing for their workforce, or which requires support, should please email lft@wolverhampton.gov.uk. Further advice and guidance on operating businesses in a Covid-secure manner can be found at Trade with Confidence. For further support, call the Environmental Health team on 01902 551155.

Information about business grants can be found at Government Business Grants. Full details of the latest national business support measures can be found at GOV.UK.  

Please note, rapid testing is not available to people who have been told to self isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or to anyone with symptoms of Covid-19, including a fever, a new continuous cough or a change to the sense of taste or smell. People with symptoms should immediately self isolate and book a PCR test by visiting GOV.UK or calling 119.

Latest figures show there were 61.6 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the 7 days to 27 March. That means 162 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that 7 day period – though the true number of new cases will likely be higher.