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PM hints at rapid Covid-19 testing to reopen late-night economy

16 February 2021 by
PM hints at rapid Covid-19 testing to reopen late-night economy

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested nightclubs and theatres may need to implement rapid on-the-day Covid-19 tests.

Parts of the economy that have been unable to reopen due to difficulty establishing social distancing, including nightclubs and theatres, may have to introduce rapid lateral flow tests to reopen safely.

Speaking during yesterday's coronavirus briefing from Downing Street, the prime minister said the government was thinking of using a combination of mass vaccination and rapid testing to reopen "those bits which are the toughest nuts to crack, such as nightclubs or theatres – those parts of the economy we couldn't get open last year".

He added: "I think that will be the route we and businesses go down. And we are already seeing lots of businesses using the potential of rapid on-the-day testing as well. That, in combination with vaccination, will probably be the route forward."

The late-night economy has been closed since the first national lockdown almost a year ago, with over 88% of nightclubs now owing more than two-quarters' worth of rent to landlords. This part of the hospitality industry is voicing concerns over an approaching ‘cliff edge' when the forfeiture moratorium comes to an end in March and tenants will no longer be protected from eviction.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), 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."

Kill said the association has been lobbying the government to provide a strategy for safe reopening, and lateral flow testing has been considered for some time.

He added: "We feel now with this acknowledgement we will be given the opportunity to deliver pilot schemes which will substantiate the ability for this sector to open safely at the appropriate time, but more importantly we will be able to plan and prepare for that opportunity."

Photo: Shutterstock

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