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Hackney Empire

Hackney Empire

SOLT and UKT help facilitate new mass testing for theatre workers

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood First Published 15 January 2021, Last Updated 19 January 2021

Last week, the government announced that they would begin rolling out a programme of mass testing for those that must leave home to go to work while there is a national lockdown.

This means that all workers who cannot work from home – not just key workers – will have access to regular lateral flow testing, funded by the government until 31 March. Lateral flow tests take only half an hour to produce results, and don’t need to be sent away to a lab.

SOLT and UKT will be helping to facilitate these tests across the theatre industry and to develop safe practices for using this scheme across the UK. Right now, we’re assessing how many tests our sector will need and where we can best use these.

These tests will be of huge help to those in our industry who cannot carry out their jobs from home. That includes both those rehearsing for shows which are planning to re-open as soon as their areas return to Tier 2, and those who are able to perform live-streamed events, such as the Old Vic’s In Camera series.

This new programme will be extremely helpful in reducing the risk of asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a government statement on Sunday:

“Lateral flow tests have already been hugely successful in finding positive cases quickly – and every positive case found is helping to stop the spread – so I encourage employers and workers to take this offer up. We must all do all we can to stop the spread of COVID, right now.”

Nimax Theatres announced last week that, following their successful pilot programme at the Palace Theatre (home of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), they would be opening up their six West End venues for use as testing hubs.


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