Workplace Covid testing is now available to all businesses in England, the government has announced, including those with fewer than 50 employees.
Businesses of all sizes can now register to order lateral flow tests for their workers, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
Rapid Covid-19 testing provides results in less than 30 minutes, helping people to “isolate immediately”, DHSC said.
The tests are free until 30 June, and companies can register until 31 March.
The hope is that asymptomatic cases can be detected quickly, thereby preventing workplace outbreaks.
So far, more than 3,500 businesses have signed up to offer workplace testing programmes, the DHSC said, and more than 14,000 have registered their interest in offering rapid testing.
Initially, only businesses with 250 or more employees were eligible to access lateral flow tests. This was reduced to 50 last month.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that regular workplace testing was “a vital part of our route back to normal life”.
He said: “These rapid tests will allow positive cases of Covid-19 to be caught quickly, which is crucial in helping businesses protect their workplaces and employees as we cautiously lift restrictions.”
But people are still being advised to work from home where they can.
Businesses have welcomed the wider rollout of workplace testing.
Mike Cherry, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said helping businesses to introduce testing was “fundamental to bringing the coronavirus under control and ensuring that this current lockdown is the last”.
Matthew Fell, Confederation of British Industry chief UK policy director, said: “Businesses appreciate that regular mass testing can play a vital role in a safe re-opening, helping to build staff confidence and adding a layer of resilience to help firms stay open.”