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Theatre boss welcomes Government’s mass testing approach

Boris Johnson suggested venues could soon be able to test audiences members before admitting them.

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The Old Vic theatre in central London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Old Vic theatre in central London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Old Vic theatre in central London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The boss of a major theatre body has welcomed the Government’s suggestion that mass testing could help get audiences back into theatres.

Speaking during a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a new “moonshot” approach could allow theatres and sports venues to test audience members on the day and let in only those who returned negative results.

It would use swab or saliva tests that can turn around results in 90 or 20 minutes.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said: “We welcome any measures that will allow us to open our venues safely to full capacity so that we can create and retain jobs for our talented workforce and help bring people back into our city centres and play our part in the national recovery.”

Explaining the new method, Mr Johnson said: “Crucially, it should be possible to deploy these tests on a far bigger scale than any country has yet achieved.

“Literally millions of tests, being processed every single day.

“And that level of tests would allow people to lead more normal lives without the need for social distancing.

“Theatres and sports venues could test an audience, all audience members, one day, and let in all those with a negative result, all those who are not infectious.”

PA