What to expect when attending English theatres from tonight
Scotland and Wales will follow from next week
As of today, theatres can welcome back audiences at capacity in auditoria in England – with Scotland and Wales set to follow from 7 August. We wanted to let you know what's likely to happen – though obviously check in with your individual venues for more.
Full capacity does not mean measure-free
Numerous studies have already emphasised how, with static audiences and adequate ventilation, venues can be very safe distancing or not. But venues will be making sure that everyone is kept safe – staff will likely retain face coverings, and there will be deep, regular cleans in theatres so that surfaces are Covid-free. Some venues may also continue to ask audience members to "check-in" using the NHS app when they arrive.
NHS Passes have been introduced in some venues
ATG (owner of a load of UK venues) announced on Friday that they intend to only admit those who have had two vaccine doses, proof of natural immunity or a negative Covid test in the last 48-hours from 19 July. Cameron Mackintosh is set to roll out a similar system from 21 July, with further venues likely to implement the certification as a way of keeping audiences and staff safe. For the next fortnight, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella will be asking for proof of a negative test for anyone over the age of 11, regardless of vaccine status. We're hoping for a bit more consistency over the coming weeks.
Some theatres will keep socially distanced performances
Everyone knows that a lot of audiences felt comfortable in socially distanced auditoria, so some will retain that configuration – either for all performances until a certain date or, in the case of shows like Chichester's South Pacific, for occasional shows.
Wearing masks is expected
Unless you are medically exempt, there's a general expectation that you should wear masks. Even though not enforced by government in England, venues are strongly pushing for masks to be worn. Considering these small inconveniences can go a long way to keeping people safe, it doesn't seem too big a price to pay. In Wales and Scotland, face masks will be remain compulsory.
Stage door, no more
To protect performers and members of the public, stage door visits are on pause for the foreseeable future. A shame, but a necessary step.
Staggered times remain
Theatres will continue to try and prevent bottlenecks, with one-way-systems, staggered entries / exits and more remaining in place to make sure there is no congestion, particularly in areas that might not be as well ventilated, in line with new government guidance.
Venues can be flexible with bookings
A lot of venues have introduced very flexible booking options – so if, for whatever reason, you can no longer attend a show, one or two of the thousands of hard-working, patient box office staff will try and help you out. No one has it easy right now but solidarity and empathy will no doubt go a long way.