People who test Covid negative should wear paper wristbands

Britons who test negative for Covid should wear paper wristbands to show they don’t have the virus, Number 10’s nudge unit says

  • Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) was sent to watch mass testing in Slovakia
  • Paper wristbands could be used to allow Covid-free people to get back to normal
  • They added incentives for getting swabs needed to be provided to the public
  • And the royal family could be used to promote a mass testing scheme

Brits who test negative for coronavirus should be told to wear paper wristbands to show they do not have the virus, Government advisers have said.

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) — also known as Number 10’s nudge unit — said the bands could act as an ‘incentive’ for people to get tested.

The Queen and senior figures of the royal family should also be recruited to promote testing in the UK, the team said in a report.

They made the recommendations ahead of the roll out of ‘Operation Moonshot’ mass testing to almost 70 authorities in the UK, after a pilot was launched in Liverpool last week with the backing of the British Army.

BIT members were sent to Slovakia to watch the country roll out its own mass testing programme, which saw 3.4million residents swabbed in one weekend. Those who tested negative were given a paper certificate and told they no longer had to follow restrictions ordering them to stay home.

As many as 38,000 positive cases were identified in the scheme — around 14 times the number being picked up by the country’s official testing system. 

Paper wristbands were recommended for those that tested negative by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT)

The reports recommendations were based on the mass testing scheme in Slovakia. Everyone who tested negative was issued with a paper certificate (pictured)


After viewing Slovakia’s mass testing programme, the team made several recommendations to the UK Government for motivating people to get tested for Covid-19.

These included:

  • Provide paper wristbands to those that have tested negative
  • Use powerful messaging such as ‘save Christmas’
  • Recruit the royal family to promote the testing programme
  • Give volunteers additional benefits such as free public transport
  • Provide lotteries as part of testing
  • Support positive cases with a ‘care package’, providing them with temporary housing in which to isolate and priority delivery slots in supermarkets 

After observing Slovakia’s mass testing programme, BIT published its recommendations in a report also issued to the UK government.

The team, which is partly owned by the Cabinet Office, recommended people should be given wristbands if they test negative. 

‘Along with certificates, distribute paper wristbands to all people who tested negative for easier recognition of whether they can enter venues,’ they said.

The report added the Government should make a serious effort to offer incentives for people to get tested, if they wanted the pilot scheme to be successful.

They suggested also rolling out lotteries and partnerships with local businesses, as well as subsidising the cost of travelling to test centres.

Additionally, it was also suggested that volunteers at testing centres should be offered perks including free parking, free public transport for a year, and free entry to selected famous attractions to get more to sign up.

Powerful messaging using slogans including ‘save Christmas’ should also be deployed, they said, to encourage people to get tested.

Britain began mass screening in Liverpool last week, where it aims to swab all 500,000 residents within six weeks to identify all coronavirus infections.

The mayor and local officials have got behind the scheme, saying it is a ‘great opportunity’ for the city to get back to normal for Christmas.

Above is the process of getting tested in Slovakia. Those who are swabbed are required to wait for their test result before leaving the centre

Mass coronavirus testing being used in Liverpool will be rolled out across 66 local authorities, the Health Secretary claimed today

Figures on the tests and positive results are due to be released this Friday, a spokesman for the Department of Health said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday mass testing will be rolled out over almost 70 local authorities in the coming days.

Areas tipped for them include Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands, which will initially receive 10,000 rapid tests that give results in an hour in the first batch, before getting a second delivery. 

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