Rapid Covid tests at nightclubs would be ‘nearly impossible’, says Halo boss

USING rapid Covid tests as a way of reopening nightclubs and theatres as Boris Johnson has suggested would be “near enough impossible”, it has been claimed.

But bosses of clubs and entertainment venues have welcomed the fact that the government is looking at ways they can reopen.

Mr Johnson said rapid lateral flow tests could help “those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year”, including theatres and clubs, but added it was “still early days”.

Ty Temel – who runs the Bournemouth club Halo and Poole’s Sandpolo event – said: “There’s a bit of light at the end of the tunnel and they’re seriously considering how they can get these businesses back to functioning the way they were.

“From a logistical point of view, I personally think its’ going to be a nightmare.”

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He said it was being suggested that lateral flow testing kits – which give a result from a nasal swab in 15 minutes – could cost £15 a time.

“There’s no small or medium sized businesses that can pay that to get people into the business,” he said.

“For a student night at Halo, the average spend is £10.

“The positive is that they’re thinking about it and I’m sure with some time, the government will come up with a way it can be made effective but as it stands it’s another sweeping statement that ‘we’re going to get businesses open by doing these lateral flow tests’ but the feedback from the operators will show it’s near enough impossible to manage.”

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He said he would happily run a trial of the rapid tests but suspected it would not be until September that clubs would be able to operate.

Elspeth McBain, chief executive of Poole’s Lighthouse, said: “They did moot this last year and we looked at it in great detail along with the orchestra. They were suggesting at that point that the audience were pre-tested before arriving at the venue.

“We were concerned about the logistical implications. At that point, they were talking about our staff being the ones that administered the test and recorded it all.”

But she said the arts centre would look at any proposals. “It’s heart-warming that the government are now seriously thinking about getting the sector back up and running because it’s such an important part of life,” she added.

“If it goes on much longer, there are so many businesses and events that will be unable to continue despite the government having put significant amounts of money into arts organisations.

“We just don’t know when they will enable us to reopen. The funding we’ve received takes us until the end of March. We fully expected to be reopened by now.”

The head of the Music Venue Trust has said rapid testing outside venue is not the way forward, but using government testing centres could be the answer.

Mark Davyd, chief executive of the organisation, said it was unlikely venues would be able to test customers safely and efficiently.

He told the PA news agency: “If we could use those to get people rapid tested, to get acknowledgement of a negative test onto their phones or a digital device, which they could show at the door, then it’s very practical to imagine that that could be a very significant contributor towards risk management.

“If we are imagining that every venue would carry out its own rapid test, that quickly moves into the realms of not making a lot of financial sense and also being a nightmare to administer and frankly being quite risky in terms of how efficient the testing would be.”

Bournemouth Echo | News