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Nightclub Industry Gives Cautious Backing to Rapid Covid Test Proposal

The nightclub industry has given its tentative backing to a suggestion that rapid Covid testing should be offered to people in a lineup – possibly while they are waiting– as a route to open up venues that have been shut since March.

A proposal has been made for rapid-turnaround lateral flow coronavirus tests as a potential solution that would enable nightclubs, which has been described as “the toughest nuts to crack”, to reopen.

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“That, in combination with vaccination, will probably be the route forward,”

Industry leaders said they welcomed moves to establish a safe reopening for many struggling nightclubs but warned that the costs and operational challenges of rolling out a testing program were yet to be overcome.

Rather than a test-while-you-queue strategy, they have argued for an app-based approach that would allow people to be tested beforehand and prove their negative result using their phone.

There will be some challenges for smaller clubs around costs, particular as rapid tests are only one component of the measures required to mitigate risk.

The methods that are being discussed have to be scalable, and there are some challenges around costs, but also around at what point we engage, given the vaccination rollout and current transmission figures.

The “least intrusive method” may be a rapid testing solution coupled with an app, generating a code to validate ticket purchase.

It is going to be tricky if the customer has to pay for a ticket and then pay for a test and then pay for food and drink.   The cost of going out is going to inflate massively.

However testing solutions are improving rapidly and one company, PocDoc, claims to have produced a rapid lateral flow Covid test boasting more than 98 per cent accuracy that costs $30 with the results returned in 15 minutes.

Nightclubs were deemed too risky to open last year when many other venues, including bars and restaurants, were unlocked for the summer.

You have two options to get into these venues. Either you have had the vaccine or you have a quick test on entry.

-Tom Batchelor

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