The government said on Friday that it will pay for another 2000 coronavirus tests among employees working in the food supply sector and in old peoples’ homes, with the primary objective of helping small companies.
Under the April 15 decree, all employees working in the food and drink supply business must be tested by April 28 and the government has said the cost must be covered by the employer.
Some have benefited from the free testing programme for 20,000 public and private sector employees who come into contact with the public. Of the 20,000, authorities had allotted 6000 to the food supply sector and these were swiftly exhausted.
Business leaders have been pressing the government to contribute towards the cost of these tests which they say is a cost to companies. There is a €110 ceiling, although there have been complaints not least from Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonos that these prices are excessive.
In an announcement on Friday, the Health Ministry said the government will cover the cost of another 2000 tests for employees in supermarkets, bakeries, fruit shops, butchers, fish mongers, mini markets, groceries and old peoples’ homes who have not been able to be tested through the programme for 20,000 employees.
“The aim of the new initiative is to benefit small and medium size companies which employ up to 15 people in the supply chain,” it said.
It also attached a document, agreed with the Employers and Industrialists Federation and the Chamber of Commerce, that specifies what is meant by the supply chain.
Employees working in management, accounts and marketing for example do not require to be tested but must continue to adhere to hygiene and protective measures.
The businesses must contact the private labs on the ministry’s list to arrange an appointment and must send the names of the individuals to be tested and the department in which they work.
Labs have been instructed to give priority to companies that did not participate in the programme with the 20,000 tests
In addition, 20% or 400 tests have been reserved for employees at old people’s homes and here too management must contact the labs to make appointments.
The scheme is in force immediately and ends on April 30.
The ministry reiterated that all businesses required by the April 15 decree to have their employees tested must do so.
It said that the April 28 deadline is being moved to April 30 to give more time.