The national rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and availability of rapid testing should allow hospitality and entertainment venues to reopen in England in the near future, the vaccine minister has said.
Speaking after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that lateral flow tests, which deliver a result in 30 minutes, could be used “those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year”, Nadhim Zahawi said it was a combination of factors that would allow “our economy back on its feet”.
So far, those that received their second dose of the vaccine have still been required to adhere to all restrictions because of uncertainty surrounding whether or not vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to others. So far, the government has favoured testing as a method to allow venues to reopen, but Mr Zahawi said early data on vaccinated transmission was “really encouraging”.
“We have a couple of very large-scale studies related to giving us better data on the vaccines,” he said. “We should be able to see really good data in the next few weeks from those studies.”
Michael Kill, the boss of the Night Time Industries Association, welcomed the news, saying: “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.”
However, there has been some criticism among industry leaders. Phil Clapp, chief executive of The UK Cinema Association, said it would be “impractical” to have customers arrive at the cinema and then wait 30 minutes while their rapid test results come back. He also added that it would likely increase prices by 50% to cover the cost of testing.