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Lyric Hammersmith (Photo credit: David Tett)

Prime Minister: Theatres to reopen in May subject to tests

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 22 February 2021, Last Updated 24 February 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today set out his four-step plan to release England from lockdown in the House of Commons. He confirmed that theatres can resume performances at the earliest from 17 May with social distancing and a limited capacity, dependant on tests.

He stressed that progress and easing of restrictions would be “led by data and not dates”, with a five-week interval between each new step. Before proceeding to the next step, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of the previous step. This assessment will be based on four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

    With reference to live entertainment reopening within step 3 in May, the Covid-19 Response, Spring 2021 document states: “Controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted, as will outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower.

    “The Government will also make a special provision for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower. In addition, pilots will run as part of the Events Research Programme to examine how such events can take place without the need for social distancing using other mitigations such as testing.”

    The recovery plan states that social distancing for indoor entertainment will be relaxed no earlier then 21 June.

    In response to the announcement, Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre said:

    “We welcome the Government’s roadmap announcement as the country takes the first steps towards easing lockdown – in particular, the news that theatre and live arts can resume performances for Step 3 with social distancing, potentially as early as 17 May. The real route back for the sector will be the Step 4 announcements hopefully enabling full auditoriums from 21 June. These dates are still subject to change, however, and even once confirmed it will take time for many of our theatres and productions to get back up and running. While they remain closed and as they return to full operation, we urge the Chancellor to continue with the financial support packages needed for businesses and individuals.”

    If you’d like to support the many theatre professionals that are in need of urgent and critical financial support, please consider donating to the Theatre Artists Fund. Any donation, big or small, is so welcome and will be given directly to those in need.

    While we wait for theatres to reopen, please remember to check out our Virtual Theatre Fix page to find out where you can enjoy theatre online.


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    Due to the current pandemic various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows. Please bear with us as we try to keep this page as up to date as possible. If you find a mistake, please let us know by emailing enquiries@soltukt.co.uk. If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

    We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

    We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

    We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

    There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

    If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

    We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

    We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

    Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

    In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

    We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

    For more than 40 years, TKTS was our on-the-day theatre ticket box office in Leicester Square. Currently closed due to the current situation, we are now selling our great last minute seats and prices online. Click here to learn more.

    While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.