The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced the gradual reopening of indoor theatres and other live performance venues from 1 August 2020. The venues will need to follow strict social distancing measures and perform to a limited audience.

This announcement marks the move to stage 4 of the government’s 5-stage road map for the return of professional performing arts. The next stage will see a further increase in the audience numbers allowed at indoor venues.

Although for many venues it will not be financially viable to open with a reduced audience this is nonetheless a positive step forward for the arts and culture sector.

Guidance for the performing arts published earlier this month also sets out further measures to support the safe return of audiences, including:

  • Reduced venue capacity and limited ticket sales to ensure social distancing can be maintained
  • Tickets will be purchased online and venues encouraged to use e-tickets to reduce contact and help with track and trace
  • Venues should have clearly communicated social distancing marking in place in areas where queues form and adopt a limited entry approach
  • Increased deep cleaning of auditoriums
  • Performances should be scheduled to allow sufficient time to undertake deep cleaning before the next audience arrives
  • Performers, conductors, musicians must observe social distancing wherever possible

This announcement follows the launch of a new £1.57bn government support package aimed at protecting the futures of venues including museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues. The support will be made available using a combination of emergency grants and loans.

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