Seasonal farm workers urged to avail of free workplace Covid-19 testing

The government has called on employers of seasonal agricultural workers to help keep the nation safe and restrict the spread of Covid-19 by registering for free workplace testing.

This follows the introduction of a new bespoke testing regime for international arrivals, which extended the supply of free Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests to employers of seasonal agricultural workers in the edible horticulture sector.

These workers play a vital role across many farms, picking fruit and vegetables and helping to feed the nation.

New testing regime

Under this new bespoke testing regime international arrivals who are in the country for longer than two days will be required to take a test before the end of day two, and take a further tests every three days – typically on days five and eight.

Those who receive a positive test result will be required to take a further PCR test for variant surveillance.

Seasonal agricultural workers will be able to access these tests through several routes, including home tests and community testing sites.

They should remain on the farm for the 10 days after they arrive, except where necessary to access testing.

Employers of seasonal agricultural workers who register for workplace testing can now access free tests to help meet the requirement, which will protect growers from having to take on the greater costs of regular PCR testing, which could save an estimated £10 million for growers across the country.

‘Going above and beyond’

Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said:

“I am immensely grateful for the resilience our growers have shown throughout the last year, meeting the challenges of the pandemic and going above and beyond to help keep the nation fed.

Now, as we look towards resuming a more normal way of life, we must stay vigilant and do what we can to ensure we continue to operate as safely as possible.

“Regular testing protects businesses, helps keep workers safe and is vital to our continuing recovery.

“I urge our farmers and growers to work with us to protect their workforces, their businesses and our food supply,” she concluded.