Theatres may be able to reopen this summer – everything you need to know
The government has unveiled a new roadmap
This afternoon has been a game-changer for the theatre world. While not providing concrete plans, they have given a rough ball-park for the industry to aim for, all while vaccines continue to be rolled out across England.
What are the dates?
So here's the top level figures and, it's important to stress, all of these are subject to change depending on any new variants emerging!
4 April – Pilot schemes will take place, investigating the impact of social distancing on performances as well as the feasibility of "enhanced testing".
12 April – Drive-in performances and screenings can begin as part of "step two"
17 May – Outdoor and indoor performances can return, with capacity capped at 50 per cent or 1000 spectators. This is part of "step three".
The rule of six will still be in place, meaning you largely shouldn't be attending events with people from other households unless observing distancing.
21 June – This is the biggie: the date that the government has said that social distancing may be eased for large events, including stage performances.
This will be very much down to the results of the test schemes that will occur in April, and risk mitigation measures such as mask wearing, temperature checks or even quick-fire testing may be in place to help prevent the spread of infection.
I've booked a show that might be affected – what do I do?
Nothing right now, thankfully! Your point of purchase should be in contact as soon as they've figured out plans. A lot of operators will be hearing all of this news at the same time as you, so will only just be drawing up their next steps.
Already West End venue operator Nimax (who presented a plethora of socially distanced shows before Christmas) has said that it will be contacting patrons in the coming weeks as it decides what is the best way forward.
Is it likely that dates will change?
We do not have a crystal ball, so we honestly don't know. The Prime Minister says that all assessed dates will be subject to a four-part test weighing up the following factors:
a) The success of the vaccine scheme
b) Sufficient evidence to show vaccine effectiveness
c) Infection rates being such that they do not risk a surge in hospitalisations
d) The presence of any concerning variants that change risks "fundamentally"
With the vaccine roll-out continuing apace, we will wait and see, though with more light at the end of the tunnel!
Will there be financial help for organisations?
We're likely to find out a lot more about this on 3 March when the Chancellor delivers another speech – with desperate help needed for those unable to benefit from the SEISS (Self-Employment Income Support Scheme).
What shows can I book for?
Well, a lot of shows have got runs set for after June that you can definitely take a punt for! The way forward will likely be decided by these events pilots in April – so we wait and see what their conclusions are.