Here’s when theatres could reopen - and safety measures that may be in place

By Helen Johnson
Monday, 13th July 2020, 9:39 am
Updated Monday, 13th July 2020, 4:36 pm
Numerous lockdown measures are set to be relaxed in Scotland in the coming weeks, with pubs, restaurants and hairdressers allowed to reopen from 15 July (Photo: Shutterstock)
Numerous lockdown measures are set to be relaxed in Scotland in the coming weeks, with pubs, restaurants and hairdressers allowed to reopen from 15 July (Photo: Shutterstock)

Numerous lockdown measures are set to be relaxed in Scotland in the coming weeks, with pubs, restaurants and hairdressers allowed to reopen from 15 July.

But when will theatres be able to open? Here’s what you need to know.

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When will theatres be able to reopen?

Theatres in Scotland temporarily closed their doors when the country entered into lockdown in March, and currently they remain closed.

There is still no date as to when they may be able to reopen.

Theatres in England have been allowed to reopen, but they are not able to show live performances.

Outdoor arts performances will be able to resume from Saturday 11 July in England, including theatres, opera, dance and music, but audience numbers will be restricted and will be subject to social distancing rules.

Like Scotland, there is still no date for when indoor performances will be able to start again.

Cash injection for arts industry

During a Downing Street news conference on 9 July, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said that the UK government was also changing the planning rules to protect theatres, concert halls and live music venues from demolition or change of use, after they were forced to close during the pandemic.

This comes after the government's recent pledge of £1.57bn to support the arts industry.

Mr Dowden said that small, local institutions needed to be protected, alongside "crown jewels" in London's West End.

“We will be prioritising it to those institutions that need it most, starting with the crown jewels of our national life - the Royal Albert Halls and so on of this world,” he said.

“But also making sure it reaches every part of the United Kingdom, the Leeds Playhouse or wherever else across the UK, where culture matters to people and matters to the local economy.”

What measures could be in place when theatres reopen?

There are certain measures that could come into place when indoor performances resume, including intervals being extended to 45 minutes, hygienic door handles, thermal imaging cameras and disinfectant fog - although nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said that more clarity was needed regarding indoor performances.

In a statement published on Twitter, Mr Bird said that the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre “continue to urge the government to published ‘no earlier than’ dates for initial indoor performances with a socially distanced audience and most importantly for full venue reopening (stages 4 and 5 respectively) to allow theatres and producers to plan and prepare”.