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UK government postpones beginning of indoor performances due to coronavirus rate of infection

Boris Johnson has given an update with regards to local lockdowns and indoor performances in England

An auditorium

The Prime Minister has delayed the reopening of many English indoor spaces today, citing an increasing rate of infection in certain hotspots across the UK.

Speaking live to the nation at 12 pm, Johnson said that: "We are postponing changes for at least a fortnight. Indoor performances will not resume, and pilot performances will not take place." Johnson has said that this may be eased on 15 August, if the rate of transmission does decrease.

"Our plan to reopen society was conditional and relies on continued progress against the virus. Our assessment is that we should squeeze the break pedal."

Johnson also added further guidance regarding facemasks: "We will also extend the wearing of face masks to other indoor settings where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet such as museums, galleries and cinemas.

"This will become enforceable in law from the 8th of August."

He added: "We can't fool ourselves that we are exempt and we must react." Cases across the UK are, according to the ONS, now rising for the first time since May. "We can't afford to ignore this evidence."

The news comes as, last night, local lockdowns were introduced in parts of northern England to prevent households meeting indoors and as a result reduce the rate of transmission.

Indoor English venues were scheduled to open on 1 August with social distancing measures in place for audiences and performers – emulating the pilot run performed at The London Palladium last week. Scottish venues are due to open in October.

Outdoor performances are still able to go ahead, with a number of venues including Regent's Park Open Air Theatre and the Minack Theatre programming weeks of shows for the coming month and a half.

Jon Morgan, director of Theatres Trust, commented: "It is disappointing that socially-distanced indoor performances will not be able to go ahead tomorrow. However in reality the majority of theatres were not planning to reopen for shows tomorrow so a two-week delay will not make a huge difference. Most theatres will not be able to put on productions until we reach Stage 5, which allows fuller audiences, so that is the most critical date for much of the sector."