Could vaccine passports be used in theatres?
With the Coronavirus roadmap detailing the easing of lockdown restrictions in England, mentions of so-called "vaccine passports" have dominated headlines. Currently, we are in Step Four of the Coronavirus roadmap, which means theatres can open at full capacity. What does this mean for West End theatres? Here's everything you need to know about vaccine passports and theatre.
What is a vaccine passport?
Currently, any individual who has received either one or both doses of the Coronavirus vaccine receives a vaccination card. This vaccination card details the type of vaccine they've had, as well as dates and times, with all details going in their medical records. Essentially, once you've had a Coronavirus vaccine jab, you should in theory be immune to the virus. A vaccine passport would mean that, if you have had a dose of the Covid-19 vaccination, you'd be allowed to enter certain places of leisure, including theatres, pubs, restaurants and museums.
At the moment, there are no vaccine passports in the United Kingdom. Those who have had the Coronavirus jab should have their Covid status updated on the NHS Test and Trace app.
Have theatres been given Covid certificates to open safely?
From the latest information as stated in the 68-page Coronavirus roadmap, permission to reopen venues will be led by four criteria:
1. How successful the vaccine scheme is.
2. Continued vaccine effectiveness to lower the rates of transmission.
3. Infection rates low enough for no risk in surge hospital admissions.
4. No concerning Coronavirus variants that pose a large threat to society.
What are theatres doing to ensure audience safety?
It's up to the decision of indvidual theatres and theatre owners as to ensuring safety precautions are in place for a safe theatre experience. All ATG and Delfont Mackintosh theatres in the West End will be making sure that audiences can prove their Covid-free status in three ways. ATG theatres in London include: Ambassadors Theatre, Apollo Victoria Theatre, Duke of York's Theatre, Fortune Theatre, Harold Pinter Theatre, Lyceum Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Playhouse Theatre, Savoy Theatre and Trafalgar Theatre. Delfont Mackintosh Theatres include: Gielgud Theatre, Noel Coward Theatre, Novello Theatre, Prince Edward Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Sondheim Theatre, Victoria Palace Theatre and Wyndham's Theatre.
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.
Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre will require a negative lateral flow test from every attendee over 11 from 18 August.
Are vaccine passports needed at outdoor theatres?
There is no distinction between the types of theatres that would need vaccine passports. Outdoor theatres are deemed to be safer than indoor theatres, as ventilation is better.
Could vaccine passports stop people from going to the theatre?
If theatres were to operate with vaccine passports in mind, this could mean that only those who have been vaccinated, or are willing to prove a negative test result, would be allowed to attend live performances. At the current rate, the Prime Minister has pledged that all adults will have been offered their first Covid vaccine dose by 31 July. Having vaccine passports as a requirement for entering theatres may mean that theatres could be allowed a greater number of audience members in return.
What has Prime Minister Boris Johnson said about vaccine passports in the past?
Speaking about the concept of vaccine passports to open up the economy after the Coronavirus pandemic, Boris Johnson believes "deep and complex issues" to certify Covid jabs could do more harm. As quoted by BBC News, Boris Johnson said using initiatives such as vaccine passports are a "novelty for our country", something that couldn't be used in other countries due to England's fast-paced vaccination programme.
Expanded further by Sky News, Johnson said: "We've never thought in terms of having something that you have to show to go to a pub or theatre. There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, ethical issues about what the role is for government in mandating people to have such a thing or, indeed, banning people from doing such a thing."
Who is in support of vaccine passports?
The British public seem to be in general support of the use of vaccine passports. In a survey reported by The Independent, over two-thirds of people are in favour of introducing them, even if it means parts of society will be allowed to go back to "normal" before others. In an article from The Stage, theatre bosses are among the leading arts figures backing Covid-status certification. They include the Young Vic's Kwame Kwei-Armah, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Simon Russell Beale, Marianne Elliott, Ralph Fiennes and Tom Stoppard.
Should I be worried if I don't have a vaccine passport?
Official vaccine passports have not been made compulsory. But, it's likely that if you are going to the theatre, you will have to prove you've had two Coronavirus vaccine doses or you have a negative test. The West End will be home to world premieres in 2021 including Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Story, as well as new London musicals like Back to the Future and Frozen. Find out our top 10 shows coming to London in 2021 and book theatre tickets with LondonTheatre.co.uk.
Article Updated: 26 July 2021
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