Barrie Chamber of Commerce joins program to distribute free COVID-19 rapid tests to small and medium-sized businesses

From the Barrie Chamber of Commerce

“Chambers of commerce and boards of trade have been indispensable resources in their communities since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Public health and the health of our economy are interdependent. That is why our chamber is proud to distribute rapid tests to small businesses in our region.‘ – Paul Markle, Executive Director at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce. 

The Barrie Chamber of Commerce has launched its COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario and Canadian governments.
Through this initiative, which began locally Wednesday, the chamber will roll out free rapid tests for small- and medium-sized businesses in the Barrie area.  
“Chambers of commerce and boards of trade have been indispensable resources in their communities since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Public health and the health of our economy are interdependent. That is why our chamber is proud to distribute rapid tests to small businesses in our region. We hope that through this program, we will be able to curb the spread and reopen our local economy safely,” said Paul Markle, Executive Director at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce. 
The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative will provide free rapid antigen tests for employees of small and medium-sized businesses. The tests are being distributed through participating local chambers of commerce and boards of trade across Ontario. Businesses (including non-chamber members) with 150 employees or less are welcome to participate in this program.
The goal of the program is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to curb the spread in the workplace, at home and around the community in Barrie. The Initiative was first successfully piloted in the Waterloo region by the Greater Kitchener Waterloo and Cambridge Chambers of Commerce in partnership with Communitech, the Government of Ontario, and the Government of Canada.
Through this pilot, these chambers have delivered over 120,000 kits to more than 1,400 businesses in their region. This means that up to 30,000 employees in essential workplaces are receiving regular screening twice weekly in the Waterloo region alone.
The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative builds upon the success of this existing program and delivers tests into the hands of small and medium-sized businesses across the province. 
“Rapid testing is one of the key ways to keep workplaces as safe as possible during the pandemic as we wait for the full vaccination roll out to be completed. 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,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. 
Interested SMEs can visit http://barriechamber.com/rapidscreen to order their free two-week supply of rapid tests. The kits will be ready for pick-up at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce building at 121 Commerce Park Drive, Unit A, Barrie by appointment scheduled at the time of placing the order. A designate from each SME, responsible for supervising the self-screening collection onsite, will be required to complete training prior to their first pick-up.  
Each SME will be required to electronically submit their screening results after each occasion and will be recommended to screen staff twice weekly. The accumulated data will be reported to the Ministry of Health bimonthly. Individual employee names and results will not be submitted with the data, and company names will not be submitted with the aggregate data to the Ministry. 
If a test results in a preliminary positive for COVID-19, the employee will be required to leave the workplace, arrange for a PCR Test within 24 hours at an approved COVID-19 assessment site, and self-isolate until a confirmatory test result is received.  
“As the indispensable partner of business, we are proud that many of our member chambers of commerce and boards of trade, including the Barrie Chamber of Commerce, will be offering this program, distributing rapid tests to small and local businesses across the province. Rapid tests will be going out to communities across Ontario with close to 100 of our chambers participating in rolling this program out,” added Rossi.

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