Theatres and museums to reopen in May

The Prime Minister has announced that theatres, museums, cinemas and live events will be allowed to open from May 17, with some restrictions.

Venues will be allowed to resume live performances with limited audiences of 50% or 1,000, whichever is the lowest. “The end really is in sight” Johnson said in the House of Commons today.

This is to be part of the government’s four-stage “roadmap” to the complete end to lockdown, with pubs and restaurants expected also reopening from mid-May.

In Step 1 of the roadmap from March 29 up to six people can meet outdoors, outdoor sport for adults and children will be allowed, stay at home order will end; Step 2 rom April 12 non-essential retail, hairdressers, nail bars and libraries can reopen, as can pubs and restaurants outdoors only, zoos and theme parks can reopen subject to restrictions, so can gyms and swimming pools, holiday lets with no shared facilities can reopen and funerals can have 30 attendees; Step 3 from May 17 most outdoor restrictions lifted, pubs, restaurants, museums and cinemas can reopen, international holidays can resume, indoor venues and theatres can have up to 1,000 spectators, outdoors 4,000 with major sports stadiums allowed crowds of 10,000, weddings can have 30 attendees; Step 4 from June 21, last sectors such as nightclubs can reopen, large events can take place.

The announcement was broadly welcomed by Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation. “However, it is critical that everyone in our sector is supported until they are able to resume normal levels of operation, which could be well beyond summer. 

“It is vital that the Job Retention Scheme and Self Employment Income Support Scheme are extended, and support must also be guaranteed for the many who continue to fall through the gaps of existing schemes. Further Budget interventions, including Creative Industries Tax Reliefs and a government-backed insurance scheme for live events, are urgently needed” she said.

James Williams, managing director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, said he welcomed the announcement, “but more detailed information is required if performing arts organisations are to be able to plan for the future with any certainty” he said. “Opening concert venues for a handful of audience members is not economically viable without further government support.  The focus of the discussion should be on when we are likely to see venues return to fuller capacities. We are still completely in the dark as to what conditions and criteria will be required in order for this to happen. Until we have this information, it is difficult to find a way out of the situation in which we find ourselves”.


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