Here’s when indoor theatres can reopen - and safety measures that could be in place

Friday, 17th July 2020, 4:09 pm
Updated Friday, 17th July 2020, 4:10 pm
When will theatres be able to open for live performances? (Photo: Shutterstock)

In an address to the nation on Friday 17 July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that numerous establishments can reopen next month, including bowling, skating rinks and casinos.

But when will indoor theatres be able to open for live performances?

Here’s what you need to know.

When will theatres be able to reopen?

Boris Johnson has announced that indoor performances with live audiences will be allowed from 1 August, along with trials of larger gatherings in places like sports stadiums.

Mr Johnson said: "From 1 August, we will restart live indoor performances to a live audience subject to the success of pilots, and we will pilot larger gatherings, with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn.”

However, he added that “nightclubs and soft play areas will sadly need to remain closed”. There is currently no reopening dates for either of these establishments.

Prior to Mr Johnson’s announcement, theatres in England could reopen, but without showing live performances.

When will outdoor performances resume?

Outdoor performances, including theatres, opera, dance and music, could resume from Saturday 11 July, but audience numbers are restricted and will be subject to social distancing rules.

During a Downing Street news conference on July 9, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "This is an important milestone for our performing artists who've been waiting patiently in the wings since march.

"Our theatres, operas, dance and music shows can start putting on outdoor performances to socially distant audiences."

Mr Dowden also said that the government was changing the planning rules to protect theatres, concert halls and live music venues from demolition or change of use, after they were forced to close during the pandemic.

This comes after the government's recent pledge of £1.57bn to support the arts industry.

Cash injection for the arts industry

When announcing the cash injection to the arts industry, Mr Dowden said that small, local institutions also needed to be protected, alongside "crown jewels" in London's West End.

Mr Dowden said: “We will be prioritising it to those institutions that need it most, starting with the crown jewels of our national life - the Royal Albert Halls and so on of this world.

“But also making sure it reaches every part of the United Kingdom, the Leeds Playhouse or wherever else across the UK, where culture matters to people and matters to the local economy.”

What measures could be in place when indoor performances resume?

There are certain measures that could come into place when indoor performances resume, including intervals being extended to 45 minutes, hygienic door handles, thermal imaging cameras and disinfectant fog - although nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

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