Indoor performances back – at a distance

Live indoor performances can resume from August 1, but with social distancing, Boris Johnson said today.

"We will restart indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, and we will also pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadia with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn" the Prime Mnister said.

It may be "conceivably possible" to move away from social distancing measures such as the one-metre rule, he added, but not before November at the earliest and "entirely conditional on our ability to keep the virus under control".

The creative sector is working with DCMS on pilots to test the viability of indoor performances for venues, and test events are to be announced soon.

Strict measures for theatres and concert halls will be in force, however, resulting in limited ticket sales.

  • Online sale of tickets sales and e-ticket use are encouraged
  • The must be increased deep cleaning of auditoriums, with time allowed in schedules or this
  • As well as for audiences there must be social distancing of performers, conductors and musicians

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said real progress was being made to get doors reopened as quickly as safely possible. "From August indoor theatres, music venues and performance spaces will safely welcome audiences back across the country” he said. “This is a welcome step in the path to a return to normal and, coupled with our £1.57 billion rescue package, will help secure the future of this important sector”.

But joy at the announcement in the theatre world was tempered with a reality check. Jon Morgan, director of the Theatres Trust, said the initiative was a step in the right direction, but as it stands it "for most theatres it will not be economically viable to reopen with 30-40% audience required under social distancing". Theatres need to be able to sell towards 80% of normal seating to break even, and even at 1 metre distancing 70% of seats is the most that would be possible.


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