England's theatres to reopen in August with social distancing measures in place
England's theatres closed in March owing to the Covid-19 outbreak
Theatres in England can reopen for socially distanced indoor performances from August 1, it was announced yesterday.
Ahead of that date, the government is working on pilot openings to establish guidelines for venues before they welcome guests back.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an announcement: "From August 1, we will restart live indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, and we will pilot larger gatherings with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn."
Oliver Dowden, the UK's Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, tweeted that he was "pleased to make progress to Stage 4 of our road map for culture".
Theatres in London’s West End closed on March 16 “until further notice”, as part of a move to limit the spread of the coronavirus. There have since been fears for the future of performances, as the closure lasted much longer than anticipated.
In June, actress Dame Judi Dench told Channel 4 News that she didn't think London's West End was "going to recover" without government help.
“It’s a desperate feeling, and when will they ever open again?” she said. "I don’t know, certainly, I’m sure not in my lifetime.
"I’m not saying that it should be more prioritised than anything else, but it just is going to be very serious. It’s a very serious effect on all of us. If the theatres now close and become dark. I don’t know when we’re going to get them back."
Jon Morgan, director of Theatres Trust, has labelled the news "a step in the right direction".
However, he added the caution that "for most theatres it will not be economically viable to reopen with the 30 to 40 per cent audience required under social distancing".
In the capital, socially distanced performances have been trialled at the London Palladium and with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Updated: July 19, 2020 06:56 PM