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Over 1,500 businesses on Cambridge chamber wait list for rapid antigen test kits

Cambridge not among high-traffic locations participating in pre-holiday rollout of kits
COVID rapid tests
The province says it will distribute up to two million rapid test kits to residents for at-home testing for COVID-19 between now and mid January.

The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce is distributing five-pack rapid antigen test kits to any local business that wants them, but a wait list to get them is now over 1,500 names long, said the chamber's member enrichment advocate and visitor services Katie Lanfranconi.

She said local supply at the chamber office had been steady up until a few weeks ago and the reason for the wait now is the province didn't order a local supply prior to giving them out to LCBO locations across Ontario last week.

"We are getting more though, so it would be beneficial to just jump on that wait list and you'll be prioritized as soon as we get our kits," she said.

Small to medium-sized businesses with 150 employees or less can order the test kits online through the Chamber's workplace safe screening program.

Lanfranconi said once they get them, the chamber will hand out enough kits to each business rep to cover the number of employees at each site. The kits will be handed out in the order in which they received them.

Lanfranconi said she noticed demand for the free kits pick up in mid November as local businesses sought ways to protect their employees over the holiday season. Once the Omicron variant was identified in early December, demand for the test kits spiked.

She said since then, people have been coming in looking for the rapid test kits, many from out of town.

The phone has also been ringing off the hook.

Prior to the end of the StaySafe Pilot Project on Oct. 31, the Chamber had been been distributing the larger 25-pack kits to businesses with 150 employees or less.

StaySafe was a program set up locally by Communitech and the province, with local chambers of commerce acting as distribution points. The program distributed 500,000 free rapid tests to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.

Canadian Shield five-pack kits are currently available online for $49.95.

The province warned Tuesday it would fine anyone selling rapid test kits that were provided free by the government and was referring any complaints to police.

Anyone else looking for the free test kits will have to wait.

The provincial rollout for the general public likely won't be coming to Cambridge before the holidays.

A website dedicated to pop-up distribution sites for the test kits says supply at each location is limited and the full list will be updated every Friday as new sites are confirmed.

So far the closest location is Yorkdale Mall in Toronto where there's a limit of one test kit per person. Each kit contains five tests.

The province says up to two million kits are being distributed in high-traffic locations such as malls, retail settings, holiday markets, public libraries and transit hubs from now through mid January.

Some of those sites will also be offering free on-site rapid tests.

Two Cambridge LCBO locations that were included in the initial rollout last Friday, saw their limited supplies go quickly.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated the StaySafe Pilot Program was set up by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Locally, however, it was an initiative of Communitech in partnership with the Ontario government.


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Doug Coxson

About the Author: Doug Coxson

Doug has been a reporter and editor for more than 25 years, working mainly in Waterloo region and Guelph.
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