Step Four of Covid roadmap delayed: What does this mean for theatres?

The planned easing of restrictions on 21 June are set to be delayed by at least four weeks.

Step Four Covid Roadmap Delayed

Step Four, the final step, in the Coronavirus roadmap is to be postponed by at least four weeks. Current measures as listed in Step Three will remain for a further month to 19 July, which means theatres will not be able to open at full capacity for the time being. Find out more about the four steps of the Coronavirus roadmap here.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation at 6pm, 14 June, to describe what rules will be enforced from 21 June. He did indicate that restrictions could ease within a fortnight, from 5 July, but all goalposts are leading towards 19 July as the new date for Step Four.

In recent weeks, a study from UCL has confirmed “wearing face coverings in theatres or other public indoor spaces reduces aerosol droplet transmission by 99%.” Socially distanced performances will continue to receive the green light, allowing audience capacities of up to 1,000 or 50%, whichever is lower.

There have been discussions on vaccine passports being introduced, which would allow audience members that have been fully vaccinated to enter a theatre auditorium without social distancing measures. Find out more about vaccine passports in theatres here

In a statement from the Society of London Theatre and UK Chief Executive Julian Bird: "The proposed four-week delay to full reopening of live entertainment venues will have serious implications for many theatres and performing companies around the country. This delay not only impacts productions and theatres preparing to open in the next few weeks, but also shows currently running socially distanced, which had planned to increase their capacity - and producers making the difficult decision whether to start rehearsals for shows due to open in late July or August, with thousands of jobs hanging in the balance. Particularly at risk are large-scale commercial productions, which have received little or no Cultural Recovery Fund support and cannot survive under social distancing... 

The safety of theatre audiences and staff is our top priority, and we want everyone to be confident to return to full houses on the basis of the latest scientific data. We need Government to confirm as soon as possible that restrictions will be lifted by 19 July - a clear, irreversible reopening date will boost audience confidence at a time when it is vital theatre fans support the industry they love."

Shows due to open from the original Step Four date (21 June) include Cinderella, which is still set to begin performances at the Gillian Lynne Theatre. In an interview with The Guardian, Andrew Lloyd Webber has stated that, if theatres are to open at full capacity later than 21 June, then he is prepared to be arrested if authorities intervene.

Other West End shows opening from 21 June include Heathers at Theatre Royal Haymarket, Hairspray at the London Coliseum and Be More Chill at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Find out more about West End shows that have opened in Step Three here

Article Updated: 15 June 2021

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