Here’s What You Need To Know
Can you run an event safely without affecting the experience?
It’s one of the key questions to come out of the pandemic – how to prepare for the return to public venues in a way that retains all the magic, while ensuring that one superspreader won’t bring down your reputation.
Until recently, this was almost unthinkable for large crowds. But rapid testing is bringing hope to event organisers. The ability to know, in minutes rather than days, whether every attendee is COVID-free is a game-changer for the industry.
So how quickly can we expect these near-instant tests? Let’s take a closer look…
The breakthrough trial
Viennese students made world headlines when they enrolled in a mass testing programme back in September. It was scheduled for two days at the Austria Centre Vienna, which had lost between €400 million and €500 million in revenue.
Medics took the throat swabs of 2,000 young Austrians, applying a number of droplets to a cassette – almost like a pregnancy test – before displaying them on a chemical strip. Results arrived in 15 minutes; no lab required. The trial revealed five positive cases. Paramedics were on standby to help and isolate those people. It was a huge success.
Then, as the virus’ second wave mounted, European Council President Charles Michel called for unity on rapid testing, something that “could restore the free movement of people”. One by one, countries (including ours) snapped up tens of millions of quick-test kits.
Liverpool’s national lead
In early November, Liverpool became the UK’s first mass testing trial. 2,000 military personnel joined doctors, nurses and other specialists to carry out as many tests in the city as they could. It didn’t matter whether you felt sick or not. Everyone was eligible.
Three weeks later, 200,000 out of a population greater than 500,000 had been swabbed. Out of those, 96,000 were given rapid tests. 842 positive cases were confirmed. Cases then dropped by two thirds, prompting Health Secretary Matt Hancock to hail Liverpool’s “remarkable decline”.
What happened next? Well, as surrounding boroughs caught up, positive tests passed 1,000. The programme continued to roll out to St Helens, the Wirral and other areas. It became a clear signpost for success. And soon, more COVID-secure specialists – like us – will have access to our own kits.
What to bear in mind for your own business
Now you know about the background, here’s some useful info for exploring rapid testing yourself:
PCR swabs are the go-to
This is the fastest way to check for COVID-19. Antibody tests, by contrast, rely on blood samples and can take several hours or a few days to show results. PCR is definitely the method of choice. But with more speed comes slightly less accuracy. We recommend taking two swabs per attendee, just to be sure.
Private, quick-test kits are already available
You can buy a rapid testing kit today. Many suppliers, from AlphaBiolabs to Praxisdienst, aren’t short on stock. Contact them to ask about bulk deals.
Prices are going down fast
Retailers like Boots and Lloyds Pharmacy are charging upwards of £100 per test – but this is for the more intensive treatment that relies on complex machines. Swab kits are starting to enter the market at £25 to £30. They’ll likely continue to fall as demand grows.
Above all, the trick for a venue or business is conducting these tests with confidence on the day. You have to be absolutely sure that testing can continue safely without disrupting the atmosphere you’ve worked so hard to build.
We may have some more information on that soon. Speak to us about any testing concerns. We’re trained in the latest medical know-how and government advice, and are here to ensure that any space can reopen securely and compliantly.