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Prime Minister unveils new tier four and stricter Christmas rules: here's how it affects theatres

The tighter rules come as a rise in virus numbers occurs, particularly in the south east


The Prime Minister has announced a new "tier four" series of guidelines for the south-east of England (including Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire) and London in the face of rising Covid numbers.

Described by Boris Johnson as "broadly equivalent" to the lockdown rules in November, the English guidance states that anyone should stay at home unless they have to leave for work purposes, while "non-essential retail, gyms and care services must close". Communal worship may continue, but tier four residents must not leave their area, and will be subject to a legal stay at home order.

As is already the case under "tier three", all theatres in "tier four" areas will have to remain closed, though, as per the November lockdown rules, live-streamed events will still be permitted as long as there are no live audience members.

Rehearsals will be able to continue as normal, as people can leave home "for work purposes" as was the case as per November lockdown rules.

The new "tier four" will be introduced from tomorrow morning. The Prime Minister has also stated that "all tiers will be formally reviewed on 30 December", though "tier four" is expected to last at least two weeks.

The "tier four" will affect Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings, London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London), Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring.

There are also major adjustments to Christmas rules that will scupper many people's plans – those in "tier four" areas will not be able to mix bubbles at all for Christmas, while those in other tiers will only be able to mix with a maximum of two other bubbles for one day only (down from five days).

Those in "tier one" and "tier two" areas will still be able to watch live performances as before around the festive period as per existing guidance.

In Wales, Theatr Clwyd has had to cancel live performances in line with the nation's new national lockdown.

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