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Health Secretary: England is 'on track' to take next step in government roadmap on 19 July

The news will be heartening for theatre producers

Shaftesbury Avenue

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has stated on BBC Radio 4 that he is very much hopeful the UK will reach "Step Four" in the roadmap in just under a month.

Chatting on Today, Hancock said that the number of people who are dying from Covid is remaining "very, very low", due to the vaccine roll-out over the last few months. Vaccines are now available to all over the age of 18, with hundreds of thousands receiving a dose on a daily basis.

Last night, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted from the first preview of Hairspray the Musical, saying "I know that theatres have had to endure many tough restrictions but we are making progress thanks to the vaccine, and I can't wait to see theatres full again very soon." He also posed for a photo with Michael Ball.

Hancock further stated that the data is "looking encouraging", with mortality rates remaining at some of their lowest since last March, while the number of adults with Covid antibodies in England is estimated to be around 86.6 per cent. This number was similar in Wales and Northern Ireland, though slightly lower in Scotland.

The Health Secretary also suggested that booster jabs may be given in conjunction with the flu vaccine later this year to ride out any rise in infections during the winter.

Step four in the roadmap should see mass events such as theatres able to reopen – though likely with some risk mitigation measures such as mask wearing and temperature checks in place. The date was pushed back from 21 June earlier this month following an increase in cases due to the "Delta" variant. It is currently set for 19 July.

As it stands, the UK government has not staged a single test event for theatres – though producers have spent thousands of pounds making sure risk mitigation measures are in place to keep audiences safe.

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