Theatre News

Culture Secretary: Covid certification is being trialled for large events

Oliver Dowden spoke to Sky News about the potential plans

Playhouse Theatre
Playhouse Theatre
© WhatsOnStage

The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has elaborated on the potential need for Covid certification in line with the proposed return of events and stage shows.

Speaking to Sky News during the week, Dowden said that Covid certification is being explored as a possible solution to getting mass events without social distancing back up and running as part of "Stage Four" of the government's roadmap – currently set for 21 June.

While he did not elaborate on specifics, previous reports have suggested that such certification could be a combination of proof of vaccination or of a negative Covid test.

Dowden also repeated a message stated over the last 12 months by those within the arts community: "The sort of social distancing we have at the moment makes it very, very difficult, for example, for theatre productions to be run profitably."

These comments coincide with an initial series of pilots will take place in April to examine the use of face coverings, mass testing and risk mitigation measures, featuring locations such as the Crucible in Sheffield.

Dowden added: "We are proceeding with caution, that is why it is the last stage, that is why we are piloting different ways of mitigating against that…I'm really worried about the future of these industries, which are so vital not just to our sense of wellbeing but to the whole of the economy".

He described this safe return without distancing as his "number one mission", in essence putting pressure on government minister Michael Gove, who is running the review, to find an adequate solution.

The Culture Secretary's latest interview cements what was suggested by the Prime Minister back in February. However, significant questions remain over how and when testing may take place for those without vaccinations, as well as what refund policies may be in place for those who have positive testing.

These debates occur against the backdrop of a major vaccine roll-out, with over 600,000 individuals receiving a Covid jab yesterday alone.

At the same time, a significant portion of the freelance workforce in the theatre community remain unsupported due to the eligibility criteria for the SEISS (Self-Employment Income Support Scheme), with one in four freelancers being forced out of business or to cease trading.

In the meantime, an assortment of venues have revealed opening plans for the summer either with our without social distancing – you can find out more here.

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