SHIPYARD staff are due to be tested for coronavirus on a mass scale as BAE prepares to bring thousands of workers back to the site.

Bosses plan to have 5,000 workers back by September and are introducing an intensive programme of regular testing.

As it stands 2,500 members of staff are working in the shipyard and will be tested for the virus every seven days in a move bosses hopes will help protect the town from any spread of the virus.

Cliff Robson, the managing director of BAE Systems Submarines said: “The introduction of a regular testing programme underlines our commitment to keeping employees and the local community safe.

“The vast majority of our workforce live locally, so this is a really positive move that will benefit everyone who works on our site, as well as the local community.

“We deliver critical defence programmes, so not only is this a vital health and safety measure, it’s also crucial to the recovery and sustainability of our business as we ramp back up following the impact of coronavirus.”

Temperature checks and nasal swabs are being taken from staff at the site.

BAE bosses said around 700 workers had already been tested in trials with none testing positive for the virus.

The firm is also planning to roll out at-home testing for workers.

Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell welcomed the move. He said: “BAE have really gone above and beyond in their testing regime to keep shipyard workers safe and projects on track. I spoke to the defence secretary after he last visited a few weeks ago and he was hugely impressed at the plans which had been put in place to keep our town safe and nation secure. It should reassure people - it’s exactly what the health Secretary and Ministry of Defence have said we need to be doing to get back to work safely and securely.”

The continuous testing regime will be implement as numbers increase on the site. The site has been modified to allow workers to social distance. A large number of staff are working from home and only those needed on site will return.

BAE hopes under the system the shipyard will be kept virus free, protecting the families of workers as well as the town. Bringing workers back to the site is said to be crucial for the recovery and sustainability of the company.

Testing kits will be sent to employees’ home addresses with detailed instructions of how to carry out the nasal swab.

The swab will then be tested in a laboratory and the results communicated by text message.

Shipyard bosses are not expecting anyone to refuse to take a test but will explain the importance of having one to anyone who does. Anyone on the site who tests positive will be sent home to isolate for 10 days in line with government guidelines. The intense programme of testing will be carried out with Carlisle-based testing company Circular 1 Health.