Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke about the opening of leisure activities after the coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday. Among these are cinemas, pubs and restaurants, made easier with the social distancing rules being brought down to just one metre. But theatre goers are just waiting for one piece of news – whether they can return to their beloved evening entertainment.
Will theatre reopen in July?
Technically, English theatres are able to reopen from July 4.
However, theatre fans should not cheer just yet, as there is an unfortunate second rule which makes things difficult: live performances are not yet allowed.
According to The Telegraph, insiders have suggested theatres and the entertainment industry are aiming for reopening in the autumn, as a theatre without any live shows are not the beacon of excitement they would have been previously.
Similarly, theatres on Broadway in the USA will not be able to reopen until September 6 at the earliest, meaning it may be some time before theatres actually reopen their doors.
The guidelines around arts and leisure activities read: “In order to begin restoring the arts and cultural sector, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
“Following a review, the Prime Minister has also set out that where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’.
“This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission.”
Despite this, however it will mean gyms and other indoor activities will remain closed, as the guidelines state: “As we begin to reopen the economy, it’s important that we do not increase the risk of transmission which is why ‘close proximity’ venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys and spas will need to remain closed for now.”
According to The Telegraph, Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of Les Miserables and owner of eight West End venues, suggested Christmas pantomimes are unlikely to happen this year, and many theatres may face closure until 2021.
As well as that, social distancing in the auditorium is difficult even with a one metre rule, compared to a two metre rule, and theatres will need to significantly reduce audience numbers in order to accommodate the rules, according to Mackintosh.
For now, at least, fans will be able to continue to live stream many shows, or be able to try to sign up to online shows as time goes on.