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DCMS committee to explore need for theatre social distancing with Andrew Lloyd Webber to give evidence

A new committee meeting will take place next week

Andrew Lloyd Webber and an empty auditorium
© Right: Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

A new DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) committee is set for next week to explore the need for social distancing within venues during the ongoing pandemic.

According to the DCMS, the purpose of the session is to allow MPs to contemplate how to allow the reopening of venues at capacity without social distancing. As it stands, the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said that it will be November at the earliest before this might be able to occur.

One proposal includes audiences having to provide negative Covid results to be admitted to live events or venues, as part of a "health passport" scheme. This will also apply to sporting occasions.

Composer and venue owner Andrew Lloyd Webber will provide evidence to the committee on 8 September at 9.30am, alongside LW Theatres' CEO Rebecca Kane Burton, Lucy Noble (artistic and commercial director at the Royal Albert Hall) and Avi Lasarow from Prenetics.

Lloyd Webber has long battled to make the case for theatre without social distancing, having brought over specific equipment from South Korea and held trial events at The London Palladium. The Phantom creator has also himself taken a trial Covid vaccine, claiming he'd do 'anything to prove that theatres can re-open safely'.

In France, events without social distancing (though with mask wearing) are now permitted in non "red zones" where the spread of infection is deemed low.

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