Following today’s official Government confirmation that remaining Covid restrictions will be lifted from 19 July in England, we look forward to being able to welcome full audiences back into our theatres.
Fiona Allan, our President of UK Theatre, said:
‘We are relieved to hear that theatres in England can open from 19 July. This will hopefully be a turning point on the road to recovery and longer-term financial viability for our world-leading sector. We recognise that for theatres in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland their date for full reopening is still some way off, however – and that this frustrating lack of consistency makes planning UK-wide tours extremely difficult.’
As throughout the pandemic, the safety and confidence of our audiences and staff remains paramount. Theatres will continue to use our industry-wide See it Safely protocols, which have been updated and reissued following the changes in Government guidance for live events. The majority of Covid safety measures will remain, including a strong recommendation of the use of face coverings, as advised by the Government.
Julian Bird, our Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, said:
‘The thousands of people who have already come back to the theatre since 17 May have been overwhelmingly positive about their experience and how safe and comfortable they felt. As we increase capacity, we want to ensure that this positive audience sentiment remains. For this reason, we hope audience members show respect for fellow theatregoers and staff by continuing to wear face coverings when coming into our venues and moving around them.’
The following measures will remain from 19 July:
- Enhanced cleaning
- Hand sanitiser stations
- Wearing of face coverings strongly encouraged, especially while moving around inside the venue
- Modified routes around the building to avoid overcrowding
- Recommendation that theatregoers bring minimal possessions
- Contactless ticketing, possible staggered arrival times and security checks
- Restricted Stage Door activities post-show
- ‘Book with Confidence, Exchange with ease’ pledge allowing exchanges up to 24 hours ahead of a performance if a ticket holder cannot attend due to Covid
The following measures will cease from 19 July:
- Socially distanced auditorium seating (although some productions may continue to offer some or all of their performances as socially distanced over the summer)
- Restrictions on booking party size and limitations to households or bubbles
- Compulsory temperature checks before entering the venue (although some venues may still require these – information will be available on individual venue websites)
- Compulsory check-in via the NHS Track & Trace app before entering the venue
Having received the go-ahead to fully reopen, theatre producers are committed to staging top quality live entertainment and creating thousands of jobs.
Eleanor Lloyd, our President of SOLT, said:
‘Producers want to get our industry back on its feet, creating employment and entertaining audiences across the country – but we are doing so under debilitating self-isolation rules and still without the protection of cancellation insurance. This is not a sustainable situation, especially as the safety net of the Culture Recovery Fund continues to leave many productions ineligible for support.’
The theatre industry still needs Government assurance and support on the following issues in order to be able to sustain this reopening and rebuild successfully.
- Provision of a Government-backed theatre insurance scheme to mitigate financial risks around future Covid-related show postponements and cancellations
- An alternative to automatic self-isolation for casts and crew after contact with a positive Covid case, allowing workers to test themselves out of isolation rather than potentially shutting down an entire production
- Clarity and efficiency around distribution of the remaining Culture Recovery Fund money, and recognition of the difficulties – particularly for commercial theatres businesses – in accessing support