The U.K.’s Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport has unveiled a proposed timeline that could lead to the reopening of theatres at full capacity by mid-late June. The new roadmap is, of course, dependent on continued coronavirus vaccine distribution and the effectiveness of current lockdown efforts.
Following Steps 1 and 2 of the roadmap (which pertain largely to schools and small outdoor gatherings), Step 3 will allow for the reopening of outdoor theatre venues as well as indoor theatres with certain restrictions. Indoor arts venues will be limited to a capacity of 50 percent or 1,000 people (whichever is lower).
Currently, Step 3 is slated to go into effect no earlier than May 17, though the exact date could change based on the state of the pandemic at that time (confirmation of the easing will be announced one week in advance)
Step 4, penciled in for June 21 (or at least five weeks after Step 3), eases all remaining capacity restrictions for theatres. Continued precautions, however, such as COVID-19 status certification and enhanced testing, may be implemented.
The reopening plan underlines the socioeconomic impact of implementing these steps, addressing that venues will be able to retain employees and that safe, regulated gatherings will have positive impacts on people’s mental well-being post-lockdown.
The scheme also speaks to the country’s general attitude toward reopening theatres, treating it as a cultural necessity and insistent on the arts maintaining a presence however possible. Last year, some West End theatres briefly reopened (with socially distanced configurations) before the lockdown shuttered productions altogether once again. The new plan is constructed with the aim of now allowing theatres to remain open once they can welcome back audiences.