Theatre-goers and sport spectators could get 24-hour 'Covid passes'

Theatre-goers and sport spectators could get 24-hour ‘Covid passes’ if they test negative allowing them to cram back into venues knowing they are safe

  • Matt Hancock reveals government has thrown its weight behind new rapid tests
  • Officials have been told to move at ‘extreme pace’ to get crowds back at events
  • Mr Hancock says pregnancy-style test which offers instant results is ‘holy grail’

A ‘Covid pass’ giving spectators a 24-hour window to return to sports arenas and theatres could be on the cards, Matt Hancock has suggested.

The Health Secretary revealed the government has thrown its weight behind new rapid tests that will allow people to mix with others in close proximity, safe in the knowledge they are virus-free at the time. 

Fans of various forms of live entertainment could return to venues without social distancing within weeks, it was reported yesterday, as officials are ordered to move at ‘extreme pace’ to encourage crowds to attend events.

Spectators could be given a ‘Covid pass’ to return to theatres and mix in crowds, knowing they are virus-free at the time

Boris Johnson’s lockdown roadmap initially saw November 1 as the first date that social distancing could be lifted, but it is understood he wants to accelerate the plan for theatres and sports events.

This could see large venues welcome back crowds over the next month if new rapid turnaround tests are ready and coronavirus cases are brought under control.

Mr Hancock yesterday described a pregnancy-style test which offers instant results as the ‘holy grail’ and could allow someone the freedom to attend such events for 24 hours.

He told LBC: ‘That is the hope that we hold out for the nation, that we can get things going even if there isn’t a vaccine, that we can use mass testing so people can check whether they have the virus today, if they don’t then (they can) go and do things, even if it means being in close confinement.

‘We need to use the next design of tests which don’t require you to send the swab off to the lab and get the result back.

‘There’s a new technology that we’re backing to get a test where you can have the turn around essentially on the spot and so you can imagine being able to go to something like the theatre, or a sports event, or to work, and you have the test, you get the result back and then they can go into the theatre.’

It comes amid threats of mass redundancies for the arts, which have faced a critical situation since venues were told to close at the start of lockdown.

Matt Hancock has revealed the government has thrown its weight behind new rapid tests that will allow people to mix with others in close proximity, safe in the knowledge they are virus-free at the time 

While just 13 per cent of staff across the wider economy are still furloughed, more than half of employees in the arts and leisure sectors remain relying on the Chancellor’s Job Retention Scheme, a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee report reveals.  

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, seen by the Telegraph, committee chairman Julian Knight said: ‘While restrictions on activity and audiences remain, employees of empty theatres and closed leisure centres face no immediate prospect of returning to work.

‘The decision to introduce those restrictions on the arts and leisure sectors was a Government one. The Government therefore has a responsibility to support these sectors’ workforces until the industries have fully re-opened.

‘Otherwise we risk many cultural organisations going out of business, never to return.’

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