Boris Johnson announced today that live indoor performances can resume in August 2020.
At a Downing Street press conference, Johnson said: “The timetable I am about to set out is conditional. It is contingent on all of us staying alert and continued success on controlling the virus.”
Local authorities will be granted new powers to allow them to cancel local events if rates of infection rise in a particular area although it has not been confirmed what specific criteria would be applied.
However, a major caveat to today’s announcement remains with social distancing likely to remain in place until at least the end of October which may mean that only a small proportion of seats can be occupied which may make re-opening West End shows financially challenging.
The Prime Minister stated: “We hope that by November at the earliest, if we continue to make progress, then it may conceivably be possible to move away from social distancing measures, such as the one metre rule. That is entirely conditional on our ability to keep the virus under control.”
A number of pilots are currently being carried out in Theatres and performance spaces to see if social distancing may be able to be relaxed within venues before the autumn although this is far from certain. Meetings of West End venues, producers and stakeholders will be held in the coming days and weeks to see what may be possible – availability of insurance for cancelled performances will also be a significant factor in theatres re-opening. Audiences are, quite literally, holding their breath.