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Health Secretary on vaccine approval: 'From spring onwards things are going to be better'

The news will likely bode well for UK theatres

An auditorium

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been optimistic about plans for 2021 following news that one of the Covid vaccines – Pfizer – has been approved by regulators and will begin being used from next week.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning Hancock said: "We have got to get this rolled out at the speed it can be manufactured but I am confident now with the news today that from spring, from Easter onwards things are going to be better.

"We are going to have a summer next year that everybody can enjoy."

Hancock has revealed that the hundreds of thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine (which is said to be 95 per cent effective and has, today, been approved by regulators in the UK) will be rolled out from next week, targeting those who are most at risk this side of the new year ahead of a major roll-out from next January.

According to Hancock, the limiting factor is not so much the distribution of the vaccine in the UK, but the manufacture of the vaccine before then. The Pfizer vaccine is one of two vaccines that have proved incredibly promising, according to the Health Secretary, with the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines hoping to be approved over the coming weeks and months.

What does it mean for theatres?

While the news for next year is beginning to look rosy, there has not been any indication from the Culture Secretary or the rest of the UK government as to when social distancing might be dropped in events or at venues – many of whom have worked tireless and spend thousands of pounds making their spaces Covid secure. Nevertheless, major producers such as Sonia Friedman have celebrated the vaccine news as a major turning point for the ongoing pandemic.

As such, a significant degree of both social and economic uncertainty remains for the time being, especially as large swathes of the population remain under stringent "tier three" lockdowns – where theatres are unable to welcome live audiences.

The government has also been criticised for its sustained lack of support for a large portion of the freelance workforce, with thousands deemed ineligible for support schemes due to the nature of their income.

A variety of big stage shows are hoping to open without social distancing from early summer, which means the vaccine roll-out may be perfectly timed.

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