Tuesday 6 April 2021 7:47 am

World's first 20-second Covid test centre opens in the City

The world’s first 20-second Covid test centre has opened in the City today as employers begin luring workers back to the office after months of home working.

Instant Covid Tests London (ICTL), which opened its doors this morning at The Brewery events space in the City of London, users holographic imaging and AI to deliver rapid results in as little as 20 seconds.

Read more: Amazon and Google unveil plans to send workers back to the office

The site’s Virolens Covid testing machine has received approval from the UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), marking the fastest coronavirus screening device in the country.

ICTL called for neighbouring businesses to arrange for their employees to be screened for Covid-19, as a plunge in coronavirus cases across the capital paves the way for a return to the office.

The government officially lifted “stay at home” orders on 29 March, although its official guidance remains that people should work from home where possible and minimise the number of journeys made.

As many as 200 Goldman Sachs staff are set to return to the main London office today, joining several hundred staff who have been at their desks throughout lockdown restrictions over the past year. Goldman Sachs employs about 6,000 workers in London in total.

Other banks are looking at similar plans, with a small number of Credit Suisse staff expected to start returning from next Monday.

The government said last week it will offer businesses free home test kits for employees in a bid to get staff back to the workplace after almost a year of home working.

All businesses with more than 10 employees who cannot offer on-site testing will be eligible for free lateral flow tests from today. Staff will have to pick up the self-test kits from their employer to be completed at home, and will then be asked to report their test results to the NHS online. 

Read more: Whitehall agrees deal to set up hybrid offices as civil servants push to keep remote working

Almost 60,000 businesses have already signed up to the government’s workplace testing programme, which will provide free rapid tests to key workers.

Businesses have until 12 April to register for the programme, and can apply even if they are not currently open or are not able to start using the tests straight away.