WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

Government issues further guidance around reopening of theatres

Some new rules have been set in stone ahead of the return of shows tomorrow

Shaftesbury Avenue

Yesterday the UK government updated its rules for English theatre performances – in areas where shows are permitted.

As reported last week, a number of areas were placed in the "tier 2" category, which means shows are permitted with social distancing and risk mitigation measures. A large portion of thetares will not, due to being in the "tier 3" category, be able to reopen.

Theatres in tiers one and two will have to limit capacity to either 50 per cent of their usual occupancy or a maximum of 1000 people – whichever is lower. As before, arrivals should be staggered with existing risk mitigation measures returning to help ensure safety throughout buildings.

A large bulk of the new rules surround the service of alcohol, which has proved contentious across the UK with the closure of pubs and the definition of "meals". Government guidance stipulates that, in tier two areas, "theatres, concert halls and cinemas are exempt from only being able to serve alcohol with a substantial meal, provided it is limited only to customers with tickets who intend to consume alcohol drinks in auditoriums."

Food and drink (including alcohol) will have to be consumed while seated in the designated performance / screening space.

Notably, and perhaps infuriatingly for some theatres that plan to open earlier to facilitate the gradual access of audience members, "venues should only serve alcohol without a substantial meal to ticketed customers for 30 minutes before and after the performance or screening."

Hospitality services will have to take last orders at 10pm, but may be able to stay open past the designated curfew time of 11pm to conclude performances, if these shows start before 10pm.

In tier one, the rule of six applies to both indoor and outdoor shows, while in tier two and three you can only gather with your household or support bubble.

The guidance also states that "where audiences or congregation members are present indoors they should not participate in any activity that can create aerosol, including singing, shouting and chanting."

Sign up for our daily newsletter for more updates