Covid: Rapid tests could help reopen theatres, PM suggests

Covid-19 / Tue 16th Feb 2021 at 07:54am

QUICK coronavirus testing could enable nightclubs and theatres to reopen, Boris Johnson has suggested.

The PM said “rapid” lateral flow tests could be used by “those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year”.

“That, in combination with vaccination, will probably be the route forward,” he told a Downing Street press conference.

But he stressed it was “still early days” with “lots of discussions still to be had”.

A government source said: “There is a long way to go before we can get people back at big events safely.”

Nightclubs have been unable to operate since the first Covid lockdown in March 2020, while many theatres have struggled to make social distancing work.

It comes as Mr Johnson said people must be “optimistic but patient” about an end to coronavirus restrictions in England.

He said steps taken to ease lockdown should be “cautious but irreversible” ahead of next week’s release of a roadmap for lifting curbs.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told LBC the government would rely on rapid testing and “making people access their own personal vaccination records” on the NHS app, rather than issuing vaccine passports.

Asked about measures to make it possible to attend cinemas and hospitality venues, he said vaccine passports were not best suited as “we don’t know if an individual vaccinated can still transmit the virus” and said it was “much better to look at rapid testing”.

Michael Kill, the boss of the Night Time Industries Association, said administering rapid tests will not be straightforward, even if it is the way venues like nightclubs are allowed to reopen.

He told the BBC that professionals would be required to administer swab tests outside the venue, where clubbers would need to wait for at least 15 minutes to get a negative result before being allowed in.

That would force venues to stagger admissions and have procedures in place to deal with positive cases and those who they come into contact with.

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