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Industry NewsOntario to provide free rapid tests through grocery stores and pharmacies

Ontario to provide free rapid tests through grocery stores and pharmacies

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The Ontario government is expanding access to free rapid testing kits to the general public for at-home use. Ontario will be distributing 5 million rapid tests each week for eight weeks through pharmacy and grocery locations across the province, as well as 500,000 each week through community partners in vulnerable communities. In total, the province is making 44 million rapid tests available to the public for free over the coming weeks.

Starting February 9, over 2,300 participating grocery and pharmacy locations will provide free rapid tests while supplies last, with a limit of one box of five tests per household per visit. Participating retailers will receive additional supply from the province each week and have the ability to determine how tests are distributed to best serve the community, including through appointment bookings, at checkout or through online orders. The province intends to bring additional locations online in the coming weeks, including independent grocers and pharmacies. A list of participating retailers as well as information on how retail locations are distributing rapid test kits can be found at Ontario.ca/rapidtest.

“As we continue to carefully ease public health measures, rapid tests are providing another layer of protection and offer the public an additional tool to confidently do the things they love, like visiting family or dining at their favourite local restaurant,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “In addition to the millions of rapid tests deployed each week to support priority settings, including hospitals, long-term care homes and schools, working with our retail and community partners we are increasing access to at-home rapid tests.”

Following the announcement, some grocers issued their own announcements about the test kits, including Metro and Food Basics.

“Our Metro and Food Basics teams have been committed to helping the communities we serve across Ontario during these trying times – offering vaccination in our pharmacies and providing a safe environment to shop for groceries. We agreed without hesitation with the Ontario government’s request to distribute free rapid antigen tests,” says Carmen Fortino, executive vice president, Ontario Division head and National Supply Chain, METRO.

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