Theatre News

Prime Minister: We'll reopen the doors to our theatres next Monday

Theatres are back in action next Monday

An audience at The London Palladium
An audience at The London Palladium
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The Prime Minister has told the nation that theatres can reopen!

Outlets were briefed on the plans overnight, with the 17 May date now set in stone. The Prime Minister will address the national later today to confirm the plans to move to "step three" in the roadmap to reopening.

This means that live performances will be able to commence on the previously projected date unveiled in February, due to a significant drop in cases and a speedy vaccine roll-out (two thirds of UK adults have had one doses with a third now fully vaccinated).

From next Monday, socially distanced performances will be permitted, with risk mitigation measures in place such as reduced capacity, face coverings, staggered entry times, temperature checks, increased ventilation and cleaning between shows. Casts and crews are frequently checked to make sure they are Covid-free. Capacity is restricted to either 1000 people or 50 per cent of the conventional number – whichever is lowest.

Theatres Trust director Jon Morgan said: "Today's announcement that Stage 3 of the reopening roadmap will proceed as planned on 17 May is welcome news for theatres and audiences alike. While many theatres in England are planning to reopen in some capacity, whether in their usual buildings or in temporary outdoor performance spaces, there are still be tough times ahead for the sector.

"Most theatres are not financially viable with audiences below 70 per cent capacity. Therefore, many theatres reopening at this point will be doing so at a loss and others will be unable to reopen until fuller audiences can be welcomed back. We hope the results of the government's Events Research Programme will enable the confident return of full audiences at Stage 4."

See which shows are scheduled to open as early as possible here

As for full reopening at capacity, this is currently set for June – though will depend on the success of the ongoing pilot events taking place across major English cities. Find out more in our guide to reopening here.

SOLT's Julian Bird said: "Today's confirmation that Step 3 of the Government roadmap will go ahead on 17 May is very good news, allowing England's theatre industry to begin the process of reopening. A number of theatres will be welcoming audiences back to socially distanced performances while also creating work for our world leading workforce. Theatres will be following our industry wide See it Safely protocols to ensure a consistency of customer experience and that the latest government Covid guidelines are being followed.

"We are optimistic that this announcement paves the way for a full reopening from 21 June, and it is hugely encouraging to see audience confidence growing, reflected in increasing ticket sales."