The social distancing reopening of indoor performances in England has been postponed until at least August 15, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
The easing of restrictions in theaters and concert halls was due to start this weekend, but has been postponed due to concerns over an increase in cases of the virus.
In addition, masks will be required in museums, galleries and cinemas – enforceable in law from August 8.
Mr Johnson said: “We just cannot take the risk. “
The government had been working with the arts sector on pilot shows with socially distant audiences in theaters and music venues in recent weeks.
Jon Morgan, director of Theaters Trust, said it was “disappointing that the social-distancing indoor performances couldn’t go” as planned.
“However, in reality the majority of theaters weren’t planning to reopen for shows tomorrow, so a two week delay won’t make a huge difference.
“Most theaters will not be able to put on productions until we reach the fifth stage [of the roadmap for the return of professional performing arts], which allows a wider audience, so it is the most critical date for a large part of the sector. ”
Earlier this month, the government announced a £ 1.57 billion support package for the arts, after several weeks of lobbying from theaters, concert halls, art galleries and d other cultural institutions, many of which had said they were on the verge of collapse.
The government also introduced measures to “support the safe return of publics”, including:
- Reduced site capacity and limited ticket sales to maintain social distancing
- Tickets should be purchased online and sites should be encouraged to use electronic tickets to reduce contact and help with tracking and tracing
- Sites should have clearly communicated social distancing markings in areas where queues form and adopt a limited entry approach
- Increased deep cleaning of auditoriums
- Performances should be planned in such a way that there is sufficient time to undertake a thorough cleaning before the next audience arrives
- Performers, conductors and musicians should observe social distancing whenever possible
The government also recently revealed its “five-step roadmap for the return of the professional performing arts,” which was detailed by Mr. Dowden as follows:
- First stage – Rehearsal and training (no audience and respect for social distancing rules)
- Second step – Performance for broadcast and recording purposes (respecting social distancing rules)
- Third step – Outdoor performances with an audience plus pilots for indoor performances with a limited distance audience
- Fourth step – Performances allowed indoors / outdoors (but with a limited audience inside)
- Fifth step – Performances allowed inside / outside (with a more complete audience inside)
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