A “test and dine” pilot has been proposed in Birmingham in a bid to help the struggling hospitality sector.
The scheme, put forward by the city council, would see people wanting to eat out tested for Covid-19 a few hours earlier.
It comes as hospitality businesses in the city consider legal action after being forced to close under tier three measures.
The plans, at a very early stage, would need to be approved by government.
Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward told a regional Covid-19 briefing on Friday that the local authority was discussing the idea.
“We would pilot it initially with a very small number of restaurants,” Mr Ward said. “If it worked we would look to expand that going forward.
“If people book a seat at one of those restaurants to eat out, we would allow them to be tested, and provided they tested negative and the booking was within six hours of that test, then they would be able to go and dine at that particular restaurant.”
Some rapid Covid-19 tests can provide results within an hour, but there have also been concerns about their accuracy.
Mike Olley, who runs the Westside Business Improvement District, which supports local firms, said he would welcome any scheme to help the city’s hospitality industry.
“I don’t doubt the sincerity of the council,” he said. “It’s a plan, it’s something. At least they’re thinking outside of the box.”
However he raised questions about who would pay for the tests and how restaurants and bars could apply to take part in the pilot.
Tier three measures have been “devastating” for hospitality, he said.
“We’ve got bars, restaurants, casinos, theatres which are all incredibly safe areas and they’re not trading, yet they’re still having to pay out massive overheads.”
The council said it believed the scheme could help businesses, but it has not yet made clear the finer details of the plans.