Government publishes 68-page roadmap document providing further detail on theatres reopening
We go through the document
The government's reopening plan has been published, with further details on how it intends to reopen theatres.
The 68-page roadmap states that theatres will, at the earliest, be able to return with social distancing on 17 May 2021 with large events capped at 1000 attendees or 50 per cent capacity – whichever is lower. This was similar to reopening plans in December 2020.
For outdoor events, capacity will either be 50 per cent or 4000 attendees. For outdoor seated events, capacity is limited to 10,000 people or 25 per cent of capacity. It is unclear whether or not outdoor theatres count as "outdoor seated events" or "outdoor other events" but we assume that they would fall under "outdoor other events" – otherwise that would mean outdoor venues would have to have smaller audiences than indoor venues.
Crucially, there may only be one week's notice as to whether or not these measures are implemented on each corresponding date – so they may shift at late notice, which might cause concern to some producers.
The government has also stressed that dates for each stage will only be "earliest" dates and could be pushed back.
After this, no earlier than 21 June, theatres may be able to reopen without social distancing.
This is, according to the Prime Minister, all dependent on the Events Research Programme and may involve rapid testing "subject to further evaluation".
As a caveat, the document says: "some measures may be required even after all adults have been offered a vaccine, because neither coverage nor effectiveness of the vaccine will be 100%.
"As a result, a significant proportion of the population will remain vulnerable to infection, some of whom will also be vulnerable to severe disease and death. This is reflected in the modelling of different scenarios for unlocking restrictions, which shows that the risk of further cases, hospitalisations and deaths remains after the adult population has been vaccinated, though modellers advise there is considerable uncertainty in these figures. "
The government will also explore whether or not " COVID-status certification could play a role in reopening our economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety."
When it comes to large-scale events, the government will, over the spring, run an Events Research Programme to explore enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes.