Today we’re taking another tentative step out of lockdown. The ‘stay at home’ order has ended and two households – or groups of up to six people – can now meet outside. From 12th April, many closed businesses and shops will be able to open. With this in mind, many firms will be thinking of using business COVID test kits to help them open safely.

Back in February, we reported how the government was offering free lateral flow tests for businesses with 50 or more employees. Yesterday it announced that businesses with over 10 employees that can’t offer on-site testing will be able to order free rapid home tests.

How can I order business COVID test kits?

To get free COVID test kits for employees to use at home, businesses must register their interest by 12th April. You need to do this even if your business is currently closed.

To be eligible, your business must be registered in England and your employees must be unable to work from home. You need to order the twice-weekly tests and then distribute them to your workers, along with clear instructions on how to use them.

How do COVID lateral flow tests work?

Using lateral flow COVID test kits is easy. Since my children went back to secondary school, our whole family has used the tests twice a week.

The tests come in a box with full details of how to use them. You wipe down a surface with antibacterial cleaner and wash your hands. You then put a little plastic vial in a holder and add a special extraction solution. Then you wash your hands again and prepare to take the test.

To perform the test, you open a packet containing a sterile swab, taking care not to touch the end. You then need to dab it on each of your tonsils four times, making sure you don’t brush it on your tongue or cheeks. It makes things a lot easier if you use a torch or other light so you can see what you are doing.

Once you’ve done your tonsils, then you use the same swab in one of your nostrils. You poke it up until there’s a bit of resistance. Then you rotate it ten times. It’s perfectly painless, though it does seem to make me sneeze shortly after I finish. Make sure you don’t sneeze on the swab!

After you’ve taken both the tonsil and nose samples, you stir the swab in the little vial of extraction solution for 15 seconds. You then put the lid on the vial, which transforms it into a tiny pipette. You then put two drops of the liquid on the paper at the bottom of lateral test device – it’s a little plastic rectangle that works in a similar way to a pregnancy test.

All you need to do next is throw away all the used items and wait 30 minutes. A red line at the top of the device means the test is negative. Two red lines means it is positive. No line or a single red line at the bottom means the test is void and you need to do it again. I’ve done four tests so far and not one has been void.

How to report COVID test results

Each of the testing devices has a special number on it. When you have your result, you report the result on the Gov.uk website. Of course, if the test is positive you – and anyone you live with – must self-isolate immediately. You must also arrange a more accurate PCR test to confirm whether or not you have the virus.

Is it worth ordering free Business COVID testing kits?

If your employees can’t work from home, then it’s definitely worth ordering the tests. They don’t cost anything, they’re easy to use and they can help identify staff who have developed COVID-19 – even if they don’t have symptoms. Catching cases early can help you avoid having to close your business, so using the tests is a small price to pay!

However, don’t forget you need to register your interest for the tests before 12th April. It only takes a few minutes, so why not do it now?

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About Ben Locker

Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.

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