Sports fans and theatre lovers could watch events without social distancing within weeks under plans being accelerated by ministers with the backing of Boris Johnson.
The Prime Minister and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden last week ordered officials to “move at extreme pace” to encourage crowds back into large venues, according to reports.
Sports venues and theatres would be key beneficiaries of the Government’s ‘Operation Moonshot’ programme to ramp up testing to millions of people every day.
It could mean that people with tickets for football matches or plays could be tested in advance and then chased up a few days after the event.
Under the Government’s roadmap plan to ease lockdown restrictions, November 1 is the first date on which social distancing could be lifted.
But sources told the Sunday Times the PM wanted to speed up the plan – despite concern that it could lead to an uptick in cases of coronavirus.
“Rapid testing is seen as the thing that can unlock the issue of getting audiences back. There have been meetings this week.
Direction has been given at a very senior level to work at extreme pace on this. The PM is keen on making rapid progress,” they said.
Large sports venues need to be at least 60% full for it to be financially viable to bring back fans.
Pre-season friendlies – including a friendly between Brighton and Chelsea have seen clubs bring fans back in with social distancing measures.
The team behind the “eat out to help out” restaurant scheme has been reformed to draw up a “seat out to help out” plan to persuade people to attend events once the restrictions are lifted.