New Zealand businesses have been given the green light to import rapid antigen tests to the country.
This comes after more than 25 businesses sought emergency approval from the Government to introduce rapid testing at local places of work.
A coalition of businesses today confirmed a $3 million order for 300,000 Abbott PanBio COVID-19 Ag Rapid tests to be imported.
These tests provide results in about 15 minutes and generally cost about $10 to $15 each.
The tests will be used at a range of major New Zealand businesses, including Auckland Airport, Air New Zealand, Foodstuffs, Mainfreight and others.
The hope is that this will provide an additional layer of protection for employees in the workplace.
The move has been supported by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry of Health.
"This is all about businesses wanting to do the best they can to protect the health and safety of their teams, and in an environment where you have community transmission of the virus, rapid testing becomes a critical part of that," said Auckland Airport Chief Executive Adrian Littlewood.
"Rapid antigen tests are also key to ensuring the continuity of critical worksites, those that provide the essential services and products that keep our country going."
The tests are expected to start arriving in New Zealand from October 21 and will be distributed to participating businesses across a range of sectors.
Auckland Airport plans to introduce the rapid tests for a range of operational employees, but will initially focus on daily testing for essential employees working on critical infrastructure projects, such as airfield safety officers overseeing upgrades to the fuel pipeline on the airfield.
Mainfreight managing director Don Braid said his company had already introduced rapid testing in 26 countries around the world and aimed to replicate its approach in the local market.
Foodstuffs North Island chief executive officer Chris Quin sees it as an important step to keep staff are.
"We need to do everything we can and this is a positive step in helping to further look after our teams in stores and in the supply chain New Zealanders depend on," Quin said.
Genesis chief executive officer Marc England said rapid testing would offer another layer of protection to the saliva testing already in place.
"Huntly's specialised workforce play an essential role in New Zealand's energy security; antigen testing will give our staff reasonable confidence before they step on site that they are safe to do so, and ensure the plant remains operational," England said.
The companies taking part in the trial include:
• Foodstuffs North Island
• Hynds Pipe Systems
• Summerset Group
• Wellington Airport
• Christchurch Airport
• Sky NZ
• Queenstown Airport
• The Warehouse Group
• ANZ Bank
• Contact Energy
• Fulton Hogan
• Countdown/Woolworths NZ
• Fletcher Building
• Carter Holt Harvey
• Meridian Energy
• DHL Express NZ
• Air NZ
• Auckland Airport