The Government announced the initiative – open to all essential workers and housemates with symptoms – at its daily briefing on efforts to tackle the virus on 23 April.
The portal remains open for limited periods every day. At the time this article was originally posted, the booking facility had already closed, stating: "Due to high demand, we have allocated all of today’s coronavirus home testing kits and appointments at regional testing sites. More testing kits and appointment slots will become available at 8am tomorrow (25 April)."
According to online Government guidance, those eligible for tests would include those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery.
As soon as the Government announced the UK would be entering lockdown to combat the pandemic, food and drink supply chain staff were identified as among several groups of key workers.
Home and mobile testing
Tests will be delivered via home testing kits and mobile testing units strategically placed around the country.
However, commenting on its website, the British Meat Processors’ Association stated: “The announced testing scheme is currently for England only, and it has not been established exactly how this will work outside England. The main difference in Scotland and Wales are the discrepancies in their key workers lists. We understand NI businesses have received separate information.”
Employer referral portal
An employer referral portal also allows employers to refer essential workers who are self-isolating either because they or member(s) of their household have coronavirus symptoms, for testing. It is a secure portal for employers to use to upload the full list of names and contact details of self-isolating essential workers.
If referred through this portal, essential workers will receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for themselves (if symptomatic) or their symptomatic household member(s) at a regional testing site.
However, while health secretary Matt Hancock has pledged the UK would ramp up testing capacity to 100,000 daily tests by the end of April, the latest reports suggest capability for 40,000. And not all of that capacity is being used.