OBOT to start handing out free COVID test kits May 26 at Bayview Yards

COVID-19 test kit

Small businesses in the National Capital Region can start picking up rapid COVID-19 test kits next week at Invest Ottawa headquarters at Bayview Yards.

The Ottawa Board of Trade says it will begin distributing the free devices beginning May 26. Tests will be handed out Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registrants must watch a five-minute training video before picking up the kits.

“These kits are an integral part of the rebound and recovery of Ottawa businesses as they will provide twice weekly screening of employees,” OBOT president and CEO Sueling Ching said in a statement. “This will help protect employees, co-workers and their customers by significantly reducing transmission.”

Under the program, employees who test positive would be required to leave work immediately and take a followup test from Ottawa Public Health, Ching said. 

Participating businesses will be able to administer the tests one to three times per week. The specimens do not need to be processed at a lab, and the kits are expected to deliver results within 15 minutes.

OBoT has been mandated to provide the kits to businesses with 150 or fewer employees. Larger businesses will get their kits directly from the Ontario government. 

Launched by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the federal and provincial governments, the program was first piloted in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. It aims to provide more than 760,000 kits to small and medium-sized businesses across the province before Labour Day Weekend.

Earlier this week, media reports said the number of COVID-19 tests administered in Ontario was falling – a trend that alarmed some health experts who said testing and contact tracing will become even more important as vaccines are rolled out so that authorities can pinpoint outbreaks and eventually eradicate the disease.

Bringing testing into the community and businesses is seen by experts as one way of reversing the trend.