Local businesses begin screening employees with COVID-19 rapid tests

Hundreds of businesses in Waterloo Region have signed up to receive a free supply of COVID-19 screening kits through the local chambers of commerce.

Swift Components Corp., a Cambridge manufacturing facility, got its first supply of the kits on Tuesday and  began testing employees.

"I was excited to hear about the program starting and got to the front of the line to take advantage and get it into our business as soon as possible," said Kristen Danson, managing partner at Swift Components Corp.

She says employees are able to self-swab and results are ready in anywhere from five to 15 minutes.

"Everybody here is making the decision to risk their health to come to work currently, so it's our responsibility to make that feel as good as possible," added Danson.

The Greater Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge chambers of commerce teamed up to offer small- and medium-size businesses in Waterloo Region free screening kits that normally cost about $12 each.

Monigram Coffee Roasters in Galt is another businesses to receive the first batch of screening kits, but because of the shutdown and reduced number of staff in the building, they're offering the kits to staff on a voluntary by-need basis.

"We are going to make them available to anyone who has any doubt about a symptom, about an exposure, about being safe within our store for the people they're working with or the one at a time customers that are visiting," said Monigram co-owner Graham Braun.

Hundreds of other businesses have now signed up to do the same through the chamber's website.

"We've already had in two days over 250 businesses from right across the region, from all different types of different businesses sectors who have gone to our website chambercheck.ca, who have ordered their kits. The response has been so great," Greater KW Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Ian McLean said.

The local chambers of commerce expect the supply to remain steady with the provincial and federal government procuring millions of these tests.

"We can't after a third lockdown come back without new tools to make sure we don't even think about going into a fourth," added McLean.

The kits act as another layer of security for essential workers and their employers.

"It seems like a great tool that we could add to what we are already doing to try and keep our staff and customers a little bit safe," said Braun.