CALGARY -- The province has done away with the mandatory inclusion of health-care providers in the COVID-19 screening process for businesses and service providers.

The move, announced Monday, will allow organizations to access the Government of Alberta's free rapid testing program without facing the additional cost of hiring a medical professional to oversee the initiative.

"The removal of the requirement to have a health-care professional oversee the rapid screening program will remove a cost barrier to small and medium enterprises participating in this program," explained Ken Kobly, Alberta Chambers of Commerce president and CEO, in a statement released Monday. "This will permit a wider and faster adoption of the rapid test program. It will also free up health-care professionals to more effectively use their skills in fighting this pandemic."

The policy change is also expected to alleviate one of the extensive demands on health-care professionals during the pandemic, freeing resources to be used when their services are needed the most.

According to the province, the decision to remove the requirement has been supported by Health Canada and the rapid testing program deployment continues to follow strict eligibility requirements and safety protocols.

As of Monday, nearly 1.8 million rapid tests have been distributed in Alberta and federal data indicates only 150,000 of the distributed tests have been used.

The federal government says the Government of Alberta has, to date, received approximately 2.9 million rapid tests.

Businesses or organizations wishing to apply are encouraged to visit Government of Alberta Rapid Testing Program