Theatres allowed to open in May in latest Coronavirus roadmap, says Prime Minister
The latest Coronavirus roadmap has been announced on 22 February.
UPDATE: Boris Johnson has stated that theatres can open from 17 May. Find out more about London theatres reopening here.
Following Boris Johnson’s speech in the House of Commons this afternoon, details have been announced for the future of live entertainment, which includes West End theatres. This comes ahead of a press conference taking place at 7pm tonight, 22 February.
Speaking about the four steps which have been planned to take England out of lockdown, Johnson confirmed that theatres will be allowed to reopen as part of step three, provisionally confirmed to take place from 17 May. Find out more about the four steps in the Coronavirus roadmap.
In a roadmap which is “cautious but also irreversible”, Johnson stated that in step three, in-person performances and sports can come back within limits. He specifically mentioned that “theatres and concert halls can reopen their doors”, with pilots of larger events to take place using enhanced testing.
If coronavirus rates remain low, England can then enter step four, the final step. In this phase, all sectors will be able to remain open, enabling theatre performances above the limit of step three. Currently, it’s unknown what limits are placed in shows opening as part of step three. Before the December lockdown, shows were able to take place to a seating capacity of 50% or 1,000, whichever was lower.
Speaking about the nation, Johnson said that the level of infection is broadly similar across England, therefore restrictions will be eased in all areas at the same time. Consequently, there will be no tiers.
Commenting on the future, there was also talk of investigating the safe return of major events, through the combined benefits of vaccine protection and rapid testing. Although the types of major events were not mentioned directly, this could include large-scale festivals that directly impact theatres.
Prior to details of the Coronavirus roadmap being announced, there was wide discussion about the future of West End theatres. From talk of opening all theatres, as well as the importance of ventilation in indoor theatres, you can find out more about the general conversations taking place in the industry here.
Currently, many West End shows are projecting a spring 2021 release date, with more shows either opening or reopening in the summer. Shows set to open soon include the world premiere of Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre and Jersey Boys at the brand-new Trafalgar Theatre.
Some shows have postponed their upcoming run though, sparking thought that the West End may not resume as normal for some time. Good at the Harold Pinter Theatre, starring David Tennant is postponed indefinitely, while Sister Act will open at the Eventim Apollo in 2022, without Whoopi Goldberg.