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UK Government Allows Indoor Theatres to Re-Open August 1

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Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has announced on Twitter that UK theatres and music halls will be allowed to reopen on August 1, with socially distanced audiences.

"So pleased to make progress to Stage 4 of our road map for culture," Dowden said in the tweet.

As BroadwayWorld previously reported, Dowden said that outdoor theatre is now allowed, beginning on July 11.

"That means theatregoers can experience a live play for the first time in months, in places like the stunning Minack Theatre in Cornwall. And music lovers can attend Glyndebourne this summer," Dowden said.

"We're taking various measures to make these places safe as they reopen," he added. These include reduced venue capacity and the use of electronic ticketing to help test and trace. "Our performing artists deserve an audience, and now they will be getting one."

However, Prime minister Boris Johnson said in his briefing that theatres and live performance venues will need to operate with social distancing measures and reduced audience capacity, "subject to the success of pilots".

There are still concerns, too, about the economic viability of producing shows with a reduced audience size, and how they might be affected by another wave of coronavirus, or by local lockdowns - something not covered by insurance companies. The Government also has yet to provide details of how its arts rescue package will be distributed, and to whom.

Jon Morgan, Director of Theatres Trust, said: "Alongside the support package and performing arts guidance announced last week, this is a step in the right direction, but for most theatres it will not be economically viable to reopen with 30-40% audience required under social distancing.

"We now need to progress as quickly as possible to an announcement on the all-important stage 5, allowing theatres to reopen fully with the appropriate safety measures. Without this most theatres cannot reopen viably and we need the go-ahead for Christmas shows, on which the survival of many theatres depends, in the next few weeks at the very latest."

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT, voiced similar concerns.

Dowden also announced on Twitter today that the reopening of casinos, bowling alleys, and ice skating rinks will be allowed on August 1.

On October 1, sports fans will be allowed to return to stadiums, with social distancing guidelines in place. Business events and conferences will also be able to return with social distancing in place.

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