Thousands of fans could attend Euro 2020, Wimbledon and music festivals this summer with the introduction of rapid coronavirus tests.
The government hopes that lateral flow tests will finally allow large outdoor events to take place again this summer.
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Rapid coronavirus tests could bring fans back to the stadiums this summer (file)Photo credit: Rex Features
Boris Johnson will reveal his roadmap from lockdown tomorrow and will address the nation at a press conference on Downing Street to set out the plans.
Although he has stressed that measures will be gradually eased, there are renewed hopes that large gatherings could be on the agenda this summer thanks to the rapid Covid tests.
Music festivals and other large gatherings have been canceled since the initial lockdown in March last year, with social distancing measures in place during the summer despite a fall in cases.
According to The Sunday Times, large outdoor events and music festivals could be allowed towards the end of May – with ticket holders being checked for the virus before they enter.
Test hopes were bolstered with the introduction of a new five-minute Covid test developed by British biotech company Avacta.
The test delivers results in just five minutes, which is six times faster than the kits developed by the US company Innova, which are already in use across the UK.
In a “ticket and test” scenario, the lateral flow tests would be sent with tickets for live events and used the day before – with a refund for a positive result.
And the new five-minute devices could mean nightclubs and theaters could run a simple five-minute test at the entrance.
Quick on-site testing and temperature checks are also possible as ministers consider ways to get fans back to venues where revenue has plummeted during the pandemic.
Sports fans could also get Covid tests along with their tickets so they can watch important events like Euro and Wimbledon this summer as well.
A Whitehall source told The Telegraph there was “a lot of pressure to open stadiums and sports,” adding, “Bread and games – very Boris.”
It is understood that the government would like to prioritize key events like Wimbledon and the seven Wembley Euro football tournament games, all of which take place in June.
But one government source insisted it was “very early days” and added, “Nobody in government makes any promises about it.”
And another Whitehall official told the Financial Times that “such measures would be part of efforts to decrease social distancing when we are in a much better place”.
However, with the government pledging to vaccinate all adults by the end of July, transfers and hospital stays could be so low that the government is allowing the masses to return.
Matt Hancock also turned down reports that Britain would offer to host the Euro 2020 tournament this summer.
The Minister of Health told Sky News: “I haven’t seen anything about it, I understand that is not right.”
It is likely that there will be a return for major events after the reopening of other industries such as non-essential retail and hospitality.
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Under Boris Johnson’s four-step plan to end the lockdown, slated to be released tomorrow, schools will open on March 8 and Brits will be allowed to interact with another outdoor household.
This is followed by non-essential stores that may not reopen until the end of April.
Indoor hospitality is expected to reopen in May. However, this could be sped up so the venues can serve customers outdoors by the end of April.