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Scottish theatres given green light to open from 17 May with social distancing

The government's two-metre distancing rules have sparked controversy however

The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh
© Margaret Ferguson Burns / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Theatres in Scotland will be able to reopen from 17 May, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has revealed.

While a major step forwards for the arts world in the north, the news was dampened somewhat by the revelation that audience members must adhere to a two-metre social distancing system, more severe than England's "one -metre-plus" rule.

In fact, 11 of Scotland's leading arts venues, as well as the Federation of Scottish Theatre, has called for a review of the requirements, saying the "current 2m+ requirement makes presenting and producing work financially unviable in almost all contexts", with 96 per cent of members unable to operate in an economically viable way.

They have also criticised the government for "continued uncertainty in the sector, which has no clear route-map of when social distancing requirements might be lifted." This is a different situation to English theatres, who are hoping to have non-capped audiences from 21 June at the earliest.

Fiona Sturgeon Shea, chief executive of the FST, said: "FST now represents a network of 260 professional performing arts organisations and individuals throughout Scotland

"Every part of that network has been damaged by the impact of COVID, yet is keen and poised to move forward to recovery. We have worked carefully and collaboratively to ensure that the sector is ready to begin making, producing and presenting work for public audiences and participants in as safe and accessible a way as possible.

"With the right regulations, and package of support, the sector will be able to continue making its significant contribution to the cultural, social and economic life of Scotland, as well as health and wellbeing, as part of its recovery and beyond."

The Edinburgh International Festival is set to go ahead with outdoor productions, while the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is looking to operate a hybrid mix of in-situ and streamed shows.

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