Queer nightclubs could finally reopen with rapid coronavirus testing, says Boris Johnson
During a Downing Street news conference on Monday (15 February), Johnson said rapid lateral flow tests could be used by “those parts of the economy we couldn’t get open last year”, such as nightclubs.
“That, in combination with vaccination, will probably be the route forward,” he added.
Nevertheless, Johnson stressed that with the lockdown still enforced, it is “still early days” with “lots of discussions still to be had”.
A government source told the BBC: “There is a long way to go before we can get people back at big events safely.”
LGBT+ nightclub and venue owners have, for the most part, responded to Johnson’s handling of the ongoing coronavirus crisis with agitation and impatience.
Clubs have remained closed since the very first lockdown in March 2020, placing the nation’s fragile queer venues into jeopardy.
Some have started online crowd funders to keep afloat while shuttered since March 2020. Others desperately worked around the tiered system of restrictions to stay open before the nation was plunged into total lockdown.
A number of queer club owners, already barely getting by on threadbare budgets, have attacked the government for its fits-and-starts approach to reopening last year as well as the lack of financial support.
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Jeremy Joseph, who runs the G-A-Y club chain in London and Manchester, in particular, emerged as one of the premier’s most caustic critics.
On Monday the UK recorded 9,765 new coronavirus infections, the first time daily cases had dropped to four figures since October. On the same day, it was confirmed 15 million people had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
However, Johnson has warned that Britons must be “optimistic but patient” for lockdown measures to be lifted, saying that steps taken must be “cautious but irreversible” to finally end the virus’ vice-like grip on the nation.