THE Prime Minister gave a hint last night that the use of rapid testing could be the answer to getting theatres and nightclubs back open later this year.

During last night's Downing Street briefing, Boris Johnson said these venues will be the "toughest nut to crack", but that the use of testing could be the answer.

Combined with the crucial mass vaccination programme, lateral flow tests which provide results in minutes could be used at nightclubs, theatres and similar venues, to reduce the risk of transmission.

It comes as the one year anniversary of the closing of the Alhambra, Bradford's bars and other venues due to Covid-19 is now one month away.

While they provide rapid results, lateral flow tests are not always completely accurate.

The Prime Minister suggested mass vaccine coverage and the use of rapid lateral flow testing is the favoured approach to reopen “the toughest nuts to crack” such as nightclubs and theatres.

His suggestion was backed by the World Health Organisation’s special envoy on Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro, who said this morning: “The secret to getting life back to some degree of normality for most of us is going to be the availability of really reliable, super-quick tests.

“That will make movement so, so much easier."

It comes following research being published revealing "potentially significant risks" of spreading Covid-19 were present in pubs and bars, even despite social distancing and hygiene steps taken by owners.

The University of Stirling research, published in the Journal Of Studies On Alcohol And Drugs, is said to be the first in the world to examine the measures tackling coronavirus in licensed premises.

Business owners and representatives were interviewed before reopening to understand the challenges they faced, with researchers then visiting 29 premises for up to two hours while posing as customers.

A range of incidents with potential to increase transmission risk were observed in all but three venues in the research carried out between May and August last year as bars began to reopen to the public.

Incidents deemed to be of greater concern, due to the repeated or continuous nature of the potential risk and the number of customers or staff involved, were observed in 11 venues.

These included combinations of singing, shouting or playing music; mixing between groups; standing and moving around the bar without distancing; customers taking photographs with other people and staff; and shaking hands or embracing others who did not appear to be in the same household.