Ontario’s COVID-19 Rapid Test Expansion
The province’s COVID-19 rapid antigen test program that was supposed to carry on for eight weeks, originally set to wrap up in April, will be continuing to offer free rapid test kits until the end of July, a government official has confirmed.
“These tests will provide another layer of protection, support the province’s efforts to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures, and offer people an additional tool that they can use to confidently do the things they love, like visiting family or dining out at their favourite local restaurant,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said at a news conference in Kitchener, Ontario in February.
The Ontario government stated last month that every week, 5.5 million free rapid COVID-19 tests would be offered at designated places province-wide. Tests are limited to one box containing five tests per household.
Ontario is now expanding its free rapid test program to include more pharmacies and grocery stores as the province is in the midst of the pandemic’s sixth wave, according to health experts.
“As an important tool that helps the province manage and live with COVID-19, the government will continue to provide free rapid antigen tests to the general public through existing channels,” Ministry of Health spokesperson Alexandra Hilkene said.
CTV reports those channels include grocery stores, pharmacies, workplaces, schools, hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement residences and other congregate settings.
Hilkene said the province will also continue to provide free rapid antigen tests for asymptomatic screening in highest risk sectors.
When the free rapid antigen test program was announced on Feb. 9, no safeguards were in place to prevent people from visiting numerous locations and collecting boxes. Although this is still the case, the government has advised everyone to refrain from hoarding and be responsible. Depending on the location, individuals can pick the tests up in-person or order online.
Canadian Grocer states that across the province there are over 2,300 sites participating in the program, including in the North and in some First Nations communities.
You can find a participating pharmacy or grocery store here.