We chatted to  Avi Lasarow, CEO of Prenetics on how the theatre industry can get back to normality as quickly and safely as possible.

Hi Avi, thanks so much for talking to me. Could you explain a little bit more aboutPrenetics and how the company has been facilitating the return of industries such as sports? It’s great to chat Emma, thank you for speaking with me. Prenetics is a global digital health and testing company that has successfully developed a gold standard solution for many sectors across the UK and globally to get back to work, following Covid-19. Our mission is to keep people healthy through the combination of genetics and digital technology – so the fight against Covid-19 is closely aligned to our daily objectives. In order to get people back to enjoying sport, entertainment and to facilitate the return of culture, we’ve provided a gold standard approach which has been replicated in cricket, boxing, darts and
Moto GP, with other sports in progress, too. With Covid-19 being such a new and largely unknown virus, we know that it’s incredibly important to
learn along the way. As part of the learning curve, we performed the first ever – as far as we aware – testing solution for the health and social care sector. We wanted to help prepare for children in care placements that, at the time, were expected to increase when the school term began.
In addition to our work in the sport and social care sectors, we have started working with major film studios to get film productions back. This itself has challenges which we’re continuing to overcome as part of the learning process as we facilitate the safe return to work. We’re also currently in
dialogue with other sectors on the same basis, and hope to continue being the driving force behind the successful safe return in as many arenas as possible.

How do you think testing for Covid-19 could potentially be used to help bring about a proper return for theatre – with a bigger audience capacity? The incorporation of Covid-19 testing, throughout all sectors, is necessary until a universal vaccine is accessible. To facilitate its success in the least disruptive way, the testing needs to be really integrated into a wider solution that comprises of courier networks, technology delivery and both lab testing and point of care testing. At this point, the “Operation Moonshot” plan for mass testing, as Government guidance has highlighted, would come to life and certainly our company like others in
the private sector need to be part of the mission. We also need to look at health passports as a priority, which can dovetail with the government’s track and trace – we have developed methodologies, already available and tried and tested by us, for the digital health passport which will
facilitate getting the country back to work and play as soon as possible.

While you have been facilitating the return of sports – has there been anything used so far that could be also used in theatre? Absolutely, in the same way that health passports govern access to “red-zones” and notify
stakeholders when red-zones have too many people within, or indeed stop people from access without a valid or recent COVID-19 result, they would be used with theatres. Importantly, commercial health passports must be linked to the Government’s track and trace scheme to ensure universal
compliance and effectivity.

Have you been having regular discussions with DCMS about the safest way for theatre to return? We are. This week, I spoke alongside key figures in the theatre world, such as Lord Lloyd-Webber as part of a select committee to advise on the safe return to theatre and the part that Prenetics and testing plays into this. As a company, we are actively engaged with all stakeholders in various sectors on how the Government and the private sector can work together as a blended approach, where the Government would contribute to the testing requirements which private companies like
Prenetics can provide. With the cost of testing reducing, it’s realistic that the money required to facilitate such testing wouldn’t be overly significant. If the Government can provide the culture sector with a “hand-up”, as opposed to a “hand out” like the furlough scheme, we believe this would be a sustainable solution for all and help avoid a detrimental impact on the economy.

Are there many options available for theatres to return safely? Our view is that, without a vaccine, it would be a collective effort to build upon the excellent progress that the Government has already made. People always see the negative, but as a country we are making good progress and although not felt yet on the ground, I am confident it will come together
as part of Moonshot which will facilitate the safe return for theatre. Health passports will be key here – and these need to be linked to the government’s track and trace initiative to ensure the people
entering theatres is controlled.

Do you think that perhaps further pilots for theatre are needed to ensure audiences and staff are safe? Yes. I think we need to setup a pilot as Lord Lloyd-Webber had in mind, full track and trace and ethics approval before commencement. Tracking people without social distancing both before entry for an agreed amount of time, and then again after for an agreed amount of time would also be necessary to ensure both audiences and staff are safe.

By Emma Clarendon