UK Prime minister Boris Johnson announced today (Tuesday 23 June 2020) that theatres in England will soon be able to re-open, albeit with conditions in place (Wales, Scotland and N Ireland set their own timescales). Whilst West End theatre owners and producers await definitive guidance, it still appears unlikely that the West End will restart any time soon with a 1m social distancing guideline still in place and no official announcements on when theatres can resume operations in full.
With other businesses such as pubs, restaurants and cinemas able to reopen in the coming weeks, live performances continue to be banned, effectively ensuring that West End shows cannot restart.
Many in the sector, already in peril and with huge numbers of redundancies seeming likely, feel that the government has simply abandoned the whole Theatre Industry – one that is vital to the economy of London, as well as many local economies and communities.
Another statement from the Prime Minister is due shortly, but the outlook for the West End, and live theatre in general, seems bleak.
In related news, Sir Cameron Mackintosh has today announced that the enforced period of closure for his shows will now be used to undertake structural work in Her Majesty’s Theatre as well as repairs to the original set and stage of the original production of London’s Phantom of the Opera. We hope that when it returns it will still be the glorious original and not Phantom Lite!