Nearly a year has passed since the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic halted nightlife across the globe. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now suggested that in tandem with vaccine distribution, rapid testing could pave the way towards reopening for live events and other affected industries.
Johnson made the remarks in a Wednesday briefing that was broadcast nationwide. Rapid testing, he said, could loosen restrictions suffocating “those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year.” He specified that such point-of-care diagnostic tests work work “in combination with vaccination,” noting that 15 million people have been vaccinated in the U.K. thus far.
Greater Manchester Night Time Economy Advisor Sacha Lord, who has legally challenged government-imposed restrictions, celebrated the Prime Minister’s address, which made note of establishments like bars, nightclubs, cinemas, theaters, gyms, casinos and museums. “Can someone pinch me please,” Lord tweeted. “Tonight, after 11 months… The Prime Minister has finally uttered the word we have been waiting for: ‘Nightclub.'”
Both the Job Support Scheme intended to aid sidelined workers and the Culture Recovery Fund geared towards arts institutions have drawn criticism for failing to support nightlife, the fifth-largest industry in the U.K., during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Night Time Industries Association, which has advocated for increased lawmaker support since spring 2020, recently warned that 81% of clubs may have to close by the end of February in the absence of relief.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s briefing fell short of giving a specific reopening timeline. He pointed out that it was “still early days,” and the route forward depends on “lots of discussions still to be had.”
Image credit: Artum Kechter