Here are the health and safety measures West End theatres use to keep audiences protected
Covid cases are rising in London, theatre performances are being cancelled, and the news seems all doom and gloom once more. But there's no business like show business, and London theatres are doing all it takes to make sure the show must go on — and go on safely.
Even though cases are rising, there's no need to be concerned about attending a show, if you exercise caution and trust the theatres' advanced safety practiscs. West End theatres remain a safe place to visit thanks to numerous measures which provide a Covid-safe time at the theatre. We've listed the safety measures West End theatres have put into place to keep theatres open, providing respite from the real world for a few hours.
Health questionaires and temperature checks
Ahead of seeing a show, audiences may have to fill out online health questionnaires to declare their Covid-free status, and that they are not displaying any Covid symptoms ahead of their show. Then at the theatre, audiences can be subject to temperature checks. If an audience member displays Covid symptoms at the venue, they may not be let in the theatre. Theatres are often changing their policies based on the latest information, but every step is put into place to reduce the likelihood of catching Covid-19 at the theatre.
Vaccinations and negative tests
Going to the theatre isn't as simple as before. Before attending most live performances, audience members are now required to prove they are either fully vaccinated, or have a negative lateral flow test result within 48 hours of the live performance.
Currently, vaccination requirements are mandatory for audience members aged 18 and over. Attendees under the age of 18 must provide verbal confirmation that they are Covid-negative by their parent/guardian. If a theatregoer is 16 or 17, they can declare their Covid status themselves.
At the moment, "fully vaccinated" means that an individual has received two vaccines against Coronavirus and it has been 14 days since their second dose. Information on booster jab policies and theatres has not been stated. Find out more about vaccination policies for West End theatres.
Daily testing for show casts and crews
It's not just new rules for theatregoers. Casts, crew members, and theatre staff must also comply with similar rules. Daily testing is required for all individuals working on a show, and Covid officers have been introduced to shows to conduct daily testing, as well as necessary contact tracing. If positive cases are detected, company members can then isolate immediately and understudies, swings, and alternates can be called upon to step into the show — sometimes at a moment's notice.
Cleaning stations and improved ventilation
While walking around the theatre, you may notice a few changes here and there. Hand sanitiser stations have been added to auditoriums and foyers, allowing everyone to keep their hands clean and stop the spread of Coronavirus. Some theatres have also installed new ventilation systems to keep fresh air circulating, in the hopes of eradicating Covid-19 particles in the air. Some theatres have also implemented a click and collect bar service too, so you can order drinks on your phone and walk up to the bar at an allotted time, rather than crowding around the bar.
To limit the spread of Coronavirus, theatregoers are required to wear masks while walking around the venue. Audience members are permitted to take off their masks in order to eat and drink, but must put their mask back on once they have finished their food and drink. Mask wearing in the auditorium may not feel as comfortable as being mask-free, however it's a small price to pay to ensure your safety, and the health of others around you.
Social distancing and streaming
Not everyone will want to sit in a crowded theatre for a few hours, and that's okay. To accommodate audience members who may want to interact with fewer people, some theatres have incorporated socially-distanced performances during their performance schedule. Many London theatres have also programmed livestreams as part of their schedules too, so there's still a way to see the latest West End theatre without travelling.
No stage door
Gone (for now) are the days of waiting at the stage door to greet performers. To limit unnecessary gatherings and stop large groups congregating, the practice of visiting performers at the stage door has now paused. While it may be unfortunate that you can't take a selfie with a performer, it's all part of measures put in place to make sure that the show can go on for even more people to see live theatre. And seeing performers at the stage door is not a given anyway, so when it returns, it'll be even more exciting.
Performances will only be cancelled when necessary
The show must go on... unless it cannot take place without risks. If a show has to cancel performances, it means there are not enough people to adequately perform the show and ensure the wellbeing of everyone on and off stage. Cancelling or postponing shows are temporary measures to ensure re-testing, as well as making sure everyone stays fit and healthy. It also provides time for additional sanitation, ahead of patrons entering the theatre again. If you have booked tickets for a cancelled performance with LondonTheatre.co.uk, you do not need to reach out to us. Our guest services team will be in touch with next steps.
Photo credit: Hand sanitiser (Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)
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