Small and medium-sized businesses in the capital will soon have access to free rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 thanks to a new program from the Ottawa Board of Trade and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
Any local business with 150 or fewer employees will be eligible to receive the rapid screening kits, which will be distributed through the Ottawa Board of Trade and Invest Ottawa. The goal of the program is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace and prevent outbreaks of the coronavirus.
“Public health and the health of our economy are interdependent,” OBOT chief executive Sueling Ching said in a statement. “We hope that through this program, we will be able to curb the spread and reopen our local economy safely.”
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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. Chambers of commerce in the two cities have delivered 120,000 kits to nearly 1,400 businesses.
“Rapid testing is one of the key ways to keep workplaces as safe as possible during the pandemic as we wait for vaccinations to roll out,” Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.
“It will be an essential part of curbing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities so that we can get on the path to economic recovery faster.”
Businesses throughout the province have been hit hard by the pandemic as governments imposed strict public health measures that shuttered or put strict capacity limits on many services and retailers. Ontario’s stay-at-home order is slated to remain in place until at least May 20.