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Chamber offering free rapid COVID tests for local businesses

'It’s one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID, reduce daily cases, reopen businesses and get employees their livelihoods back,' says MP
20210517rapidscreening
Bill Ecklund, President of the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce, shows one of the new rapid screening tests it is making available to small- and medium-sized businesses in Orillia and area.

NEWS RELEASE
ORILLIA DISTRICT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
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Today, the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario and Canadian governments, launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative.

Through this initiative, the Orillia District Chamber will roll out free rapid tests for small- and medium-sized businesses in Orillia and across Lake Country.

“Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade have been indispensable resources in their communities since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis," said Bill Ecklund, President of the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce.

"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 Orillia and Lake Country. We hope that through this program, we will be able to curb the spread and reopen our local economy safely,” said Ecklund.

The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative will provide free rapid antigen tests for employees of small and medium-sized businesses. The tests will be distributed through participating local chambers of commerce and boards of trade in 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 Orillia and Lake Country.

“I applaud the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce for taking this initiative to put rapid, antigen tests in the hands of businesses in our area. It’s one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID, reduce daily cases, reopen businesses and get employees their livelihoods back,” said Bruce Stanton, Member of Parliament for Simcoe North.

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 Government of Canada.

Through this pilot, the Chambers have delivered 120,000 kits to nearly 1,400 businesses in the 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 vaccinations to roll out. 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.

In Orillia, tests can be ordered from www.RapidTestOrillia.com.

This program is being conducted in partnership with chambers across Muskoka.

For the Muskoka program, tests are being shipped and warehoused first in Orillia, and then distributed to each Muskoka Chamber. Businesses then make an appointment to pick up tests from their closest Chamber.

All they need to do is sign up, watch a short video, sign a declaration and waiver, and designated workplace supervisors can then supervise staff testing themselves on site. Workplaces must use the online reporting tool provided by the Chambers; however, the Chambers themselves will only know the types and amounts of tests used. They won’t know the results of any tests.

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.

“The province’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of all Ontarians, and rapid antigen point-of-care testing goes hand in hand with public health measures already in place.” said Jill Dunlop, MPP Simcoe North.

“The Orillia District Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in offering valuable supports to their business throughout this pandemic. Access to these rapid testing kits will help provide yet another added layer of protection for workers and their families at such a crucial time," said Dunlop.

The Orillia-Muskoka program is part of an overall Provincial Antigen Screening Program designed to decrease the impact of COVID-19 on the people of Ontario and the economy. This includes stay at home measures, education campaigns on how to stay safe, significant testing and tracing capacity, and a vaccination distribution plan.

“As the indispensable partner of business, we are proud that many of our member Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, including the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce, who will be offering this program, distributing rapid tests to small and local businesses across the province. Over 760,000 rapid tests will be going out to communities across Ontario with 28 of our Chambers participating in rolling this program out,” added Rossi.

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