The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce is making COVID-19 rapid screening kits available to businesses throughout the County. 

The chamber announced the initiative May 13, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative will offer free tests for small and medium-sized businesses starting later this month. The provincial and federal governments are providing the supply.

Executive director Amanda Conn said the program can reassure people as the province reopens. 

“It’s just one more tool in the toolkit to make sure we can reopen our economy as safely as possible,” Conn said. “We’re looking at any tools we can put in the hands of businesses that makes people feel safe and secure.”

The test is a self-administered nasal swab, allowing employees to confirm whether they are negative for COVID-19. Conn said the chamber will provide enough kits to last for a couple of weeks, with employees testing once or twice per week. Anyone with a positive result would be asked to go to a testing centre and self-isolate. There is no specified end date for the program, with businesses able to order more. 

Conn said the tests are designed for asymptomatic individuals, with anyone displaying symptoms urged to go to a testing centre. 

Haliburton has eight active COVID-19 cases as of May 17. Conn said most tests should come back negative, but they can still have a positive impact.

“It helps with that confidence that everyone is so eager to get back,” she said. “Screening does not stop any of those public health measures, but it does help bring more confidence back to the community.”

Rhubarb restaurant owner Terri Matthews – who also serves on the chamber’s board – said it should bring comfort to both customers and staff. She added it is something that could be promoted. 

“It will help to give peace of mind to our customers and our staff,” Matthews said. “It’s something that I think is important, and I’m happy to let people know.”  

She added she hopes people get on board with it.

“I don’t know why we all wouldn’t want to try and keep each other healthy,” Matthews said.

“We hope that through this program, we will be able to curb the spread and reopen our local economy safely,” chamber president Andrea Strano said. 

Those interested can log on at haliburtonchamber.com/rapidscreening to pre-order a two-week supply. 

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