Rapid coronavirus testing could pave the way for nightclubs and theatres to re-open, Boris Johnson has claimed.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said “rapid” lateral flow tests could be used by “those parts of the economy” that were unable to reopen their doors last year.
The lateral flow tests can provide results within half an hour, which could potentially allow clubbers to flock back to nightclubs once they can provide a negative result.
However, Johnson stressed that it was “still early days” and said there was “lots of discussions still to be had”.
He has also said that the road map out of the current coronavirus lockdown in England is a “cautious but irreversible” plan.
The latest suggestion comes after it was confirmed that UK music venues are set to trial a new system of digital “health passports” in a bid to reopen live gigs safely.
Start-up company You Check will be trialling a new digital health passport app in collaboration with the Music Venue Trust – allowing music fans to prove that they do not have the virus to secure entry.
But Michael Kill, the head of the Night Time Industries Association, told the BBC that administering rapid tests will not be straightforward and stressed that healthcare professionals would be needed to administer swab tests, while clubbers would need to wait for at least 15 minutes to get a negative result.
Welcoming the announcement, however, he said: “Finally we have some acknowledgement from the prime minister and government on the existence of late night economy businesses, including nightclubs, theatres, casinos and late bars, particularly as they are some of the hardest hit since the start of the pandemic.”
Elsewhere, Primavera Sound festival’s recent trial for the return of gigs with no social distancing but same-day antigen testing found no infection rate, while a study in Germany last year found a “low to very low risk” or coronavirus spreading at indoor gigs – concluding that “good ventilation and social distancing are key”.
Meanwhile, the Music Venue Trust has said that gigs could potentially return in the spring.