N.B. chambers of commerce to distribute COVID-19 rapid tests to businesses

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N.B. makes COVID-19 rapid testing kits available to some businesses
WATCH: The New Brunswick government is now making a COVID-19 rapid testing kits available to small and medium-sized businesses. Tim Roszell reports – Jul 6, 2021

The New Brunswick government is making COVID-19 rapid testing kits available to owners of small and medium-sized businesses in the province.

Four chambers of commerce — Saint John region, Edmundston region, Moncton and Fredericton — have launched a joint program to distribute the tests in their communities.

Businesses with fewer than 300 employees can register with a testing plan in place for their staff. They would then be eligible to receive a supply of rapid tests free of charge.

READ MORE: U.S. FDA approves 2 at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. When will Canada catch up?

David Duplisea, Chamber Saint John Region CEO, spent part of his Tuesday preparing a storefront in Brunswick Square to become a distribution centre.

He said with vaccination rates climbing, the program is an extra level of protection for business owners and customers.

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“This is another addition, another tool in the tool kit,” Duplisea began, “that helps people to raise their comfort levels with coming back out in public, starting to socialize — whatever that might look like — and businesses start to welcome customers back into their facilities again.”

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Businesses are not required to be members of their local chamber to take advantage of the program.

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Duplisea said each distribution centre is starting with 12,000 rapid tests, with the potential to receive more if necessary.

Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO Krista Ross said there is an appetite for this type of program within the business community.

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“We don’t know all of the risks that might be coming into our businesses or our communities,” Ross said. “So we need to be hyper-sensitive and careful and continuing to follow public health and public safety guidelines.”

A COVID-19 rapid test kit on display at a temporary distribution centre in Saint John, N.B. Tim Roszell/Global News

Public Health is supplying the kits.

Businesses are required to report testing numbers and results to the province through the chambers of commerce.

New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said collecting the information is key.

“We keep track of data in quite a specific way and we wouldn’t want to lose any of that information,” Russell said. “We need that information to continue to make informed decisions moving forward.”

The data will also be reported to Health Canada.

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READ MORE: New Brunswick explores using rapid COVID-19 tests for daily commuters

“We are pleased to offer these kits as part of a national program,” said Cathy Pelletier, executive director of the Edmundston Region Chamber of Commerce, in a news release. “The rapid antigen screening kits do not replace the PCR tests administered by Public Health, but they are another tool in the toolbox companies can use to keep their employees and customers safe.”

“By providing these free testing kits, we will not only keep people in our community safe but hope to assist our small and medium-sized businesses to get back on track after a very difficult year,” said John Wishart, CEO, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton, in a news release.

Duplisea said the program is scheduled to run for ninety days, but that could change. He said days could be added or taken away depending on the need determined by health and program officials.


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