UK: Prime Minister Talks Mass Testing For Venues, MVT Responds

A man collects a swab by himself at a COVID-19 testing center in Liverpool, England, Nov. 6, 2020.
Jon Super/Xinhua via Getty
– A man collects a swab by himself at a COVID-19 testing center in Liverpool, England, Nov. 6, 2020.
A similar sight could present itself to anyone attending an event, should mass testing become a requirement.

In his Feb. 15 press conference, UK prime minister Boris Johnson addressed mass testing before entering a venue as a viable option of opening the sector back up.

“What we’re thinking of at the moment is more of a route that relies on mass vaccination (…) plus lateral flow testing, rapid testing, for those bits that’ll be the toughest nuts to crack as it where, such as nightclubs or theaters – those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year,” according to the prime minister, who said he intends to vaccinate all the adults in the UK by autumn.
He added, “You already see a lot of businesses using the potential of rapid on-the-day testing as well. I think that, in combination with vaccination, will probably be the route forward.”
Johnson emphasized that it was “still early days,” and that were “lots of discussions still to be had.”
The UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT) released a statement on the prime minister’s comments, penned by its CEO Mark Davyd, which points out that the organization “already created the possibility of two pilot sites to host events featuring rapid testing and a range of other mitigation measures intended to deliver live music in a safe setting.”
The statement is referring to London’s 100 Club and Bristol’s Exchange, where test runs on how to deliver events with rapid testing involved could be held.
MVT has been in discussions with government since last summer, after it had come up with four protocols for how to bring live music back.
“Protocol B,” Davyd told Pollstar at the time, “was that you could create environments in which you knew there was no infection. And that basically revolves around testing and tracking and tracing.”
However, grassroots music venues, which operate on tight margins, are forced to question heavily whether to invest in testing and track and tracing, if a vaccine is available, which is the case int the UK.
It is unclear, not just to the MVT, why the UK government supports rapid testing and certification to enter music venues but apparently doesn’t consider a documented vaccination alone as sufficient. 
“This presents the possibility that someone who has been vaccinated might need to also be rapid tested, which seems counter intuitive. If there is going to be a need to show evidence of being a ‘safe customer’ surely we want to provide people with the most number of opportunities to do that?,” the statement continues.
Davyd also emphasized that it was vital to the grassroots music sector to ensure “that it recognizes everyone’s right to privacy in balance with music venues’ need and duty to protect our staff and customers. 
“Any plan for a health passport must contain rigorous safeguards against excluding people unable to be vaccinated or take part in rapid testing.”