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Seasonal workers to receive free Covid-19 tests on farms

THE Government has today called on employers of seasonal agricultural workers to help keep the nation safe and restrict the spread of Covid-19 by registering for free workplace testing.

This follows the introduction of a new ‘bespoke’ testing regime for international arrivals this weekend, which extended the supply of free Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests to employers in the fruit and vegetable sector.

Under this regime anyone who is in the country for longer than two days will be required to take a test before the end of day two and to take a further test every three days – typically on days five and eight. Those who receive a positive test result will be required to take a further PCR test for variant surveillance.

Seasonal agricultural workers will be able to access these tests through several routes, including home tests and community testing sites. They should remain on the farm for the ten days after they arrive, except where necessary to access testing.

Employers of seasonal agricultural workers who register for workplace testing can now access free tests to help meet this testing requirement, which will protect growers from having to take on the greater costs of regular PCR testing, which could save an estimated £10m for growers across the country.

Farming Minister Victoria Prentis has written to employers of seasonal workers today, encouraging them to take up this offer and register to deliver regular testing of their workers.

Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, so workplace testing will help to identify individuals who may be carrying the virus without knowing it, and allow employers to take the necessary action to stop the virus spreading amongst their workforce.

The tests can be carried out at a designated workplace site, and for businesses of over ten people, employers can dispense those tests for staff to take at home. If positive results come back, staff must take swift action to isolate and undertake a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.

Employers must register for the programme by April 12 to receive a supply of free test kits until the end of June.

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