Coronavirus roadmap announced: What does it mean for London theatres?
Boris Johnson has spoken in the House of Commons about the latest Coronavirus roadmap, designed to ease England out of lockdown. Speaking about the entire plan, he touched on the future of theatres, saying that theatres could open to socially-distanced audiences from 17 May, ahead of full capacity performances from 21 June. You can read our full news story here.
So, what does this mean for the future of London theatres, as well as nationwide entertainment venues? Here's the latest information said by Prime Minister Boris Johnson directly relating to entertainment.
Make sure to bookmark LondonTheatre.co.uk for the latest information on theatres reopening in the West End, across London and the United Kingdom.
When are London theatres opening again in step three?
Boris Johnson directly spoke about theatres in his latest roadmap. In a roadmap which is “cautious but also irreversible”, theatres are allowed back into the picture from step three, provisionally dated for 17 May. In step three, in-person performances and sports can come back within limits. Pilots of larger events will also be allowed to take place using enhanced testing, again the full knowledge surrounding what enhanced testing is remains unknown. Read more about the Events Research Programme here.
In the government’s socio-economic analysis, they state that “the arts, entertainment and recreation sector has been hit very hard by the pandemic. Pre-COVID-19, this sector was worth £18.3 billion GVA UK wide (£15.5 billion in England) and had 473,000 jobs (400,000 in England). Between 25 January and 7 February, 44% of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector have paused trading.”
In a tweet from Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, he spoke about the audience limits in step three. He stated that "Indoor sports and arts venues will be able to welcome audiences back with 1,000 people or 50% capacity."
When are London theatres opening again in step four?
Performances played to a full capacity will be allowed once England is in step four, provisionally dated for 21 June. There will be at least five weeks between steps to allow for the data to show that Covid rates are dropping. Once England enters step four, there’ll be few restrictions, with events in large-scale theatres allowed again. Some of the largest theatres in London include the London Coliseum, the Apollo Victoria Theatre and the London Palladium.
In a tweet from Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, he said: "We aim to remove the remaining restrictions allowing full theatres, sports & business events subject to public health & outcome of reviews." This will not take place before 21 June.
You can read the full Coronavirus roadmap set out by the government here.
Which London theatres can open first?
At the moment, it’s unknown which London theatres will be given the greenlight first. There’s been calls for outdoor theatres to open first, as they don't have ventilation problems like indoor theatres, as well as ease in ensuring the social distance of theatregoers. Although theatres can open from 17 May, as permitted in step 3 of the Coronavirus roadmap, we don’t know if this’ll mean all West End theatres can open straight away.
Does the 2021 Budget affect the opening of theatres?
On 3 March, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak spoke in the House of Commons to reveal the 2021 Budget. As part of the budget, £408 million will be given to theatres, museums and galleries, to allow the arts and culture sector to recover. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said on Twitter that the budget "funding is not just about survival, but planning & preparing for reopening of theatres, galleries and gigs.”
As part of the Budget, a Community Ownership Fund has been set up, where organisations can bid for up to £250,000 in funding. According to the government site, "projects could include community-owned sports clubs, sporting and leisure facilities, cinemas and theatres." Details on eligibility criteria for both theatres and applicants are to be announced at a later date.
Can I still watch West End theatre online?
Yes. As stated previously by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, theatres are still allowed to stay open as a place of work. Rather than staging productions to an in-person audience, shows can either be filmed in advance and streamed, or livestreamed from a theatre. Check out our London theatre streaming guide, where you can access the best theatre taking place in the capital and nationwide.
Which West End shows are currently cancelled or postponed because of Covid-19?
Having affected all our lives for the best part of a year, dozens of shows have now been directly impacted by Coronavirus. Cancellations, suspensions and postponements have become somewhat of a norm across the West End, with theatres continuing to keep their doors shut. Here’s a full list of shows cancelled by Coronavirus, updated with the latest information.
When will West End shows reopen in 2021?
Currently, it’s unknown when West End shows will open in 2021, so we’re not going to project a certain date. What we can say is that there’s been talk surrounding May 2021 as viable, with shows like Hamilton, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera all planning to reopen again at some point this summer.
Should I book tickets for West End shows now?
With the positive news that theatres can provisionally reopen their doors from 17 May, now’s the perfect time to think about booking West End tickets. The West End will be home to exciting productions year round, including Back to the Future and To Kill a Mockingbird. Here’s our guide to the top 10 West End shows which, Coronavirus regulations permitting, will open in 2021.