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Nightclubs in England will reopen 'without COVID-19 tests or vaccine passports'

A source told the Evening Standard that health checks would be “too much hassle”

Nightclubs in England will reportedly reopen on 19th July with no requirements for attendees to present negative COVID-19 tests or proof of vaccination.

A government source told the Evening Standard that Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister leading a review on COVID-19 vaccination passports, believes it would be “too much hassle” for the public and businesses for health checks to be required prior to entry into venues. 

The source told the Standard: “We are increasingly confident that people are protected and the plan is to reopen everything, with no exceptions.”

A formal decision on the matter will be made on 12th July, a week before all coronavirus restrictions are scheduled to be lifted in England. Cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant are continuing to fuel increasing infection rates in the UK, with 26,068 new cases of COVID-19 being reported today (30th June), the highest number of cases since 29th January.

Yesterday (29th June), Boris Johnson said he was feeling “increasingly confident” that restrictions will be lifted on 19th July.

The news comes less than a week after the government published a report on its Event Research Programme (ERP), which includes data gathered from a number of COVID-19 pilot events. These included two indoor club events in Liverpool with a combined crowd of 6,000 people, a marquee concert, the BRIT Awards, and the F.A. Cup Final. The report found that, from the 58,000 combined attendees of these events, only 28 positive COVID-19 cases were recorded.

Although the numbers offered some hope for the full reopening of society, including clubs, in England on 19th July, the ERP report highlighted real concerns due to the low number of returned PCR tests from attendees after the events. Last month it was reported that less than half of the attendees at the Liverpool events returned a PCR test before and after the show as recommended. 

Overall, just 15 percent of attendees returned PCR tests after all events in the ERP. Audience members were required to present a negative result from a lateral flow test to gain entry, but these are less accurate than PCRs. 

DJ Mag's recently spoke with Professor Iain Buchan, Executive Dean of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, about the likelihood of clubs reopening on 19th July. He pointed to major economic, social and mental health benefits of events returning, but suggested that while pilots had been successful, the reality of implementing requirements behind the scenes would be "very hard work". 

Earlier this month, 10,000 people attended a UK festival pilot event without masks or social distancing as part of the continued ERP. Meanwhile, over half of UK summer festivals have been cancelled for 2021, according to a new study from The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF). The association also recently renewed its call for an urgent intervention from the UK government for festivals, particularly relating to festival insurance.

(Photo: Jody Hartley)