Britons could be allowed to return to nightclubs and theaters with the use of rapid coronavirus tests, the Prime Minister has suggested.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Monday, Boris Johnson said using lateral flow testing could be the ‘way forward’ to reopening those businesses that have been ‘the hardest to crack “.
Nightclubs have been closed since coronavirus restrictions were first introduced in the UK last March, while theaters have reopened in the summer, but only at reduced capacities.
Asked about the possibility of “vaccine passports” being used to demonstrate whether someone has had a COVID vaccine, the Prime Minister admitted that some international travel would likely require proof of vaccination.
But he suggested using testing would be a more likely way to allow UK businesses to reopen.
“Some countries obviously will want to insist that people coming to their country have proof of vaccination – just as people have insisted in the past that you have proof that you are vaccinated against yellow fever or other diseases, ”Mr Johnson mentioned.
“For the purposes of this country and to do things within the UK national economy, we will look at everything.
“But what we’re thinking about right now is more of a path that relies on mass vaccination – we intend to vaccinate all adults in the country by the fall – plus lateral flow tests, tests quick for the bits that were the hardest nuts to crack.
“Like nightclubs or theaters – those sectors of the economy that we couldn’t open last year.
“I think this will be the path we take and the companies fall. You are already seeing many companies that are also using the potential of rapid testing on the day.
“I think, in combination with vaccination, will probably be the way to go.”
But the prime minister, who will reveal his roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions next week, has warned it is “still early” in easing COVID measures and “there is still a lot of discussion to be had” .
Pregnancy-like lateral flow tests have been used by the government as part of “surge testing” in areas with high coronavirus rates.
They can give results in 30 minutes and are also currently offered to people without symptoms in a variety of settings, such as universities, schools, nursing homes, and workplaces.
Last week, the government ordered 20 million lateral flow tests in a new contract with a Derby-based manufacturer.
SureScreen Diagnostics tests – the first UK tests to be validated in the laboratory by Public Health England – are in the final stages of validation in clinical trials.
In total, the government is said to have spent more than £ 1 billion on lateral flow testing.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, last week described lateral flow testing as “a really important part of our toolbox”, despite previous doubts about their reliability.
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