THOUSANDS of fans could be allowed to attend Euro 2020, Wimbledon and music festivals this summer with the introduction of rapid coronavirus tests.
The government hopes that lateral flow tests could finally allow large outdoor events to resume this summer.
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Boris Johnson will unveil his roadmap out of lockdown tomorrow, and is set to address the nation at a Downing Street press conference to lay out the plans.
While he has stressed that measures will be eased gradually, there are fresh hopes that large gatherings could be on the cards this summer thanks to rapid Covid tests.
Music festivals and other large gatherings have been cancelled since the first lockdown in March last year, with social distancing measures remaining in place over the summer despite a fall in cases.
According to The Sunday Times, large outdoor events and music festivals could be permitted towards the end of May – with ticket holders screened for the virus prior to entry.
Testing hopes have been boosted by the introduction of a new five-minute Covid test developed by British biotech firm Avacta.
The test gives results in just five minutes, which is six times faster than kits developed by US company Innova already in use across the UK.
Under one "ticket and test" scenario, the lateral flow tests would be sent out with tickets to live events and used the day beforehand — with a refund for a positive result.
And the new five-minute devices could mean nightclubs and theatres would be able to conduct a simple five-minute test at the entrance.
Rapid on-site testing and temperature checks are also a possibility as ministers mull ways to get fans back into venues, which have seen a plunge in revenue during the pandemic.
Sports fans could also be sent Covid tests along with their tickets so they can watch major events including the Euros and Wimbledon again this summer.
One Whitehall source told The Telegraph there was a “huge push to get stadiums and sports open,” adding: “Bread and games – very Boris.”
It is understood the government is keen to prioritise key events like Wimbledon and the seven Wembley-based matches in the Euros football tournament, all of which are in June.
But a government source insisted it was “very early days” and added: “Nobody in Government is making any promises about this."
And another Whitehall official told the Financial Times that “such measures would be part of efforts to reduce social distancing when we’re in a much better place”.
But with the government pledging to vaccinate all adults by the end of July, transmissions and hospitalisations could fall sufficiently low for the government to allow crowds to return.
Matt Hancock also dismissed reports that the UK would offer to host the Euro 2020 tournament this summer.
The Health secretary told Sky News: “I haven't seen anything on that, I understand that that's not right.”
It is likely that any return for large events would come after other industries have reopened, such as non-essential retail and hospitality.
Under Boris Johnson’s four-stage plan for exiting lockdown, due to be published tomorrow, schools will open on March 8 and Brits will be allowed to socialise with another household outdoors.
This would be followed by non-essential shops, which may not reopen until late April.
Indoor hospitality is likely to reopen in May, though this could be fast tracked to allow venues to serve customers outdoors by the end of April.
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