Health secretary Nick Hancock has bowed to pressure to offer construction workers with coronavirus symptoms access to testing.
He confirmed on Tuesday that all workers and their families will be offered tests as testing capacity in the UK is ramped up to 73,000 per day.
Forty-one drive through testing centres are now in operation with a further 48 due to come on stream this week. A further 70 mobile testing stations largely operated by the army are also due to be operating by the end of the week.
Hancock said: “We now have the capacity to make testing available to all workers who have to leave home to go to work and members of their households who have symptoms.”
He had come under pressure from construction union Unite to extend testing to construction workers because so many had kept working through the lockdown.
In a letter to the health secretary, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Many construction workers continued to work through the lockdown and furloughed workers are being phased back ahead of other sectors.
“Operating advice for building sites based on CLC guidance states that construction workers can work face to face within two metres of each other as long as it is for ‘15 minutes or less where possible’.
“Unite believes with good practice social distancing can be maintained for most tasks and where this is not possible the task should not be undertaken.
“However, to date there is evidence of confusion and if the 15-minute relaxation persists it will heighten concerns about spreading Covid-19 into communities and workers’ homes.”
It is hoped testing will help to provide evidence whether safe site working practices are preventing the spread of coronavirus on site.