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Boris Johnson Suggests UK Venues Could Open With Rapid Testing
Christian Eede , February 16th, 2021 13:18

His comments are the first indicator of a roadmap back to nightclubs and gig venues hosting events

Boris Johnson has hinted at a roadmap towards the possible reopening of nightclubs, theatres and other music venues in the UK this year.

Speaking at one of the UK Government's regular press conferences yesterday (February 15), Johnson said rapid COVID-19 testing is the way forward for businesses that haven't yet been able to reopen due to the pandemic.

With the UK's vaccination programme continuing to be rolled out, it's hoped that all adults will have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine by autumn. Though the vaccination programme will likely not be able to eradicate all transmission of COVID-19, Johnson's comments signalled that lateral flow tests, which produce results within a few minutes, could be used to permit entry into venues where social distancing isn't possible.

It's "a route that relies on mass vaccination," Johnson said, "plus lateral flow testing for the toughest nuts to crack, such as nightclubs or theatres."

There are still some concerns over these plans, with Public Health England having previously found that lateral flow tests result in 23% false negative tests, a figure which rises to 42% when they are not done by medically trained staff.

Ultimately, Johnson concluded that "it is still early days, with lots of discussions still to be had." This is the first hint that nightclubs and gig venues, which have largely been unable to open since last year's first COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, have had from the Government of a possible route back to running events.

Responding to Johnson's comments, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said: "Finally we have some acknowledgement from the PM 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."