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Photo credit: National Theatre (Photo courtesy of Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash)

How is the Omicron variant affecting West End theatres?

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Earlier this year, West End theatres were allowed to reopen at full capacity. Now, thousands of people descend to London's playhouses every evening to spend time at the theatre again. Since the pandemic, there's notable differences in the steps that someone takes before entering the theatre — masks, proof of Covid negative testing, and on-site lateral flow tests are now the new normal. But it's a small price to pay for being back at the theatre and ensuring everyone's safety.

We're not out of the woods just yet though. Cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant are rising, and this may affect West End theatres. Check out the latest information about the Omicron variant and its implications on West End shows here. 

Make sure to bookmark LondonTheatre.co.uk for the latest information on London theatres. 

Has the Omicron variant closed any West End theatres yet? 

No. As of last month, all West End theatres are now open, and no theatres have suggested that they are likely to close due to the Omicron variant. Some productions have had to cancel performances due to illness though, and you can check out the latest shows that have suspended performances due to Coronavirus here.

Will the Omicron variant force West End theatres to close? 

We can't predict the future, so it's impossible to know if West End theatres will have to close due to a rise in Coronavirus cases again. We're hopeful that with the majority of the population double-vaccinated, and the stringent measures in place at London's theatres, that all theatres across the capital will be able to remain open forevermore. If theatres do close once more, make sure to check LondonTheatre.co.uk for the latest news.

Are there any new Covid rules at London theatres?

In a press conference led by the Prime Minister on 8 December, masks will be required in all events spaces, including theatres, in the coming days. New guidance around masks will be made compulsory from Friday 10 December. A Covid pass will be made mandatory in indoor venues with a capacity of over 500, outdoor venues with a capacity of 4000, and any venue over 10000.

Many West End theatres have vaccine requirements that must be met ahead of entering the auditorium. This is to ensure the protection of everyone in the building, and keep Coronavirus cases at a minimum. Find out more about theatre vaccine rules in London here.

The majority of theatres also have a no stage door policy in place, to ensure crowds aren't congregating around performers.

Are any London theatres offering socially-distanced performances?

Most theatres are now operating at full capacity, meaning there are no socially-distanced performances. There are some Off-West End venues, such as the Young Vic, that have incorporated socially-distanced performances as part of a show's engagement. It's best to check directly with the theatre to see if there are any performances being staged with social distancing in mind.

Will I be safe at the theatre with the Omicron variant? 

Yes, you will be safe seeing a show at the theatre. All theatres are doing their utmost to ensure the safety of audience members, staff, and performers. The majority of theatres require one of the following from patrons before stepping foot in the theatre, so you can be confident everyone around you is Covid-free:

A negative lateral flow test within 48 hours of a performance.
Natural immunity after a positive PCR test within 180 days of a performance.
Two vaccine doses received at least two weeks before a performance.

At the moment, it is unknown how much of a risk the Omicron variant presents to London's theatres. However the steps put in place should keep everyone safe from the new variant, ensuring audiences can see as many shows as possible. Check out all the shows open in London and book theatre tickets now.

Photo credit: National Theatre (Photo courtesy of Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash)

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