In the UK recently, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, suggested that rapid testing, alongside the mass vaccination effort, would be key to getting at-capacity events up and running – in particular, describing theatre and clubs as “the toughest nuts to crack”.
But Johnson also stressed it was “still early days”, with “lots of discussions still to be had”. A government source said: “There is a long way to go before we can get people back at big events safely.”
Which begs the question – if going to events including theatre and clubs, means being tested, would you do so? While naturally it would be down to qualified professionals to decide how implementation would and could happen, gauging audience sentiment is also a useful tool.
It’s not surprisingly a lively debate. Many commentators highlighted how large segments of the public are already tested regularly for work purposes, so it would make going to an event relatively straightforward. As one person said: “we already do them twice a week at school and it’s absolutely fine.”
Others mentioned that they would be happy for this to take place only “if a refund or alternate date was offered (where possible) for a positive test”. This raised some further points – if one member of a party tested positive, would the entire party have to skip the show?
Similarly, many people raised concerns about the timing of tests: would they be before punters head to a venue (therefore potentially not factoring in travel) or would they have to take place at the venue – in which case, where would they be? Would queues be longer as a result? All very justified questions.
What form the rapid tests would take was debated by some readers – a variety of different testing schemes are being developed (some involving swabs, others use potentially less intrusive methods). Leaving aside questions of test effectiveness, Oxford University is also said to be rolling out a five-minute testing kit later this year.
Another popular question was – who pays for these tests? Would it be the event organisers or attendees? How much would they cost? And if attendees pay, how would this effect attendance rates?
Of course, some uncertainty remains over whether or not the tests would be on top of vaccines or in lieu of vaccines – for example, would vaccinated individuals still have to take a test?
A test, plus a vaccine, plus a temperature check, plus face masks, on top of fogging, improved air conditioning and more, all sounds like a rather reassuring accumulation of safety measures.
Essentially there are lots of unknowns, but a suggestion that there are thoughts being had and potential plans afoot, is certainly a promising sign.