Ontario Launching Holiday Pop-Up Testing Blitz
To provide an additional layer of protection against COVID-19 and variants including Omicron, the province has launched a holiday testing blitz to offer rapid antigen tests to individuals free of charge at pop-up sites across the province, as well as at select LCBO stores across Ontario. This initiative is part of the government’s enhanced COVID-19 testing strategy to mitigate the increased risk of transmission over the holiday season.
“Working with local health partners, community organizations, and businesses, we are bringing free rapid testing directly to Ontarians during the holiday season by deploying pop-up teams in priority areas,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Rapid antigen screening is an additional layer of protection to proactively identify cases and mitigate community transmission, while we continue to strengthen our vaccine rollout to protect ourselves and loved ones.”
Throughout December to mid-January, two million rapid tests will be provided free of charge at pop-up testing sites in high-traffic settings such as malls, retail settings, holiday markets, public libraries and transit hubs, as well as providing vaccine education. Pop-up teams will be deployed at locations across the province, some co-located with GO-VAXX mobile vaccine buses. Most sites will distribute free take-home rapid antigen test kits, subject to supply, and some will offer asymptomatic rapid antigen screening on-site. The government will also make take-home rapid tests available at LCBO stores across Ontario.
Ontarians can visit Ontario.ca/holidaytesting to find out if pop-up rapid antigen screening sites will be available in their area. Additional pop-ups, including participating LCBO locations, will be added upon confirmation by individual locations with the website updated weekly. No appointment will be required.
People without symptoms of COVID-19 or people who have not had recent exposure to someone with COVID-19 will be able to pick up a package of free tests from a pop-up site, while supplies last, or get a free test performed on-site. At sites distributing tests for use at home, there is a limit of one kit per person. Every person that receives a package of tests or gets a test on-site will be provided with information and resources about rapid antigen screening and COVID-19 vaccination.
Anyone who receives a positive result through their rapid test needs to self-isolate and book a lab-based PCR test at a testing site to confirm the result.
As of December 14, 2021, Ontario has distributed over 45 million rapid tests to thousands of workplaces, hospitals, home and community care settings, long-term care homes, and schools and childcare centres across the province. This includes an additional 11 million rapid tests for every single public-school student learning in-person ahead of the December break to add an additional layer of protection over the holiday period and as students return to school in January.
Ontario continues to look for opportunities to expand access to rapid testing for all Ontarians. With an increased demand for rapid tests and globally constrained supply, the province is continuing to urge the federal government to increase the number of approved rapid tests available for use in Ontario and across the country.