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London is set to move into lockdown tier two – the new rules explained with performances unaffected

The new rules are expected by the end of the week

Two West End venues opening up in the near future
© WhatsOnStage

London is, according to the BBC, set to go into the "tier two" level of lockdown from the start of the weekend.

The tier system is intended to streamline restrictions across England, providing greater clarity for those affected by the pandemic.

You can find out more about the English lockdown rules here.

What is tier two?

Under tier two, you are prohibited from meeting up indoors with anyone outside of your household. You can still do outdoor meetings (though these have to adhere to the rule of six).

There is a tightening compared to the restrictions in "medium risk" parts of England.

But what does this mean for theatre audiences?

First of all, it's worth clarifying that this does not mean theatres are closed or performances cancelled. This isn't a repeat of the lockdown seen in March. As performances are currently being booked by household grouping and these groups sit away from one another, this will be able to carry on as before.

For audiences, therefore, shows that have been announced or booked for will still be going ahead, with venues implementing socially distanced seating and every necessary precaution to mitigate risk.

As per Gov.uk: "Venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors with anyone who they do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) unless exemptions apply."

To reiterate what has been the case since the rule of six was first implemented – there must be no mixed households within a group booking. Venues will, in tier 2, now have to take extra steps to guarantee that this is the case.

If anything changes we will update this page with further news.

What does it mean for professionals and amateur performers?

For professional performers, as designated theatres or rehearsal spaces are their workplace, there will not be a restriction on meeting indoors with those outside of your household. You'll have to adhere to social distancing unless you're exempted due to being in the same bubble or through daily testing.

The problems may lie with amateur performers (who will not be able to meet up indoors) though, honestly, we can't find too much by way of detail at the moment. Watch this space.

What happens if an area moves into "tier three"?

Currently, there is no discussion of London moving into tier three, though the wider Liverpool area is currently under such restrictions, with it being reported that other areas may face similar rules soon.

Entertainment venues will only close if the local councils in tier three areas deem it necessary to prevent the spread of the virus (so it's basically an extra measure beyond tier three). Theatres in Liverpool are currently set to remain open, though at the moment the public is dissuaded from moving in and out of such areas.

As such – venues will not definitely close if a location moves into "tier three" – given what is happening in Liverpool, it seems as though local authorities will only close entertainment spaces as a last resort.

Given that, thusfar, venues have been welcoming audiences with temperature checks, face masks, hand sanitisation and more, every stop is being pulled out to keep punters safe.

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