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New COVID-19 Tier Restrictions Affect English Arts Venues

Venues in tier three areas must remain closed while those in lower tiers can open under certain conditions

New COVID-19 Tier Restrictions Affect English Arts Venues

Newly announced coronavirus tier restrictions for England were announced in parliament today. From 2 December, when the current restrictions are due to end, the majority of English counties will be in the two highest and toughest measures, affecting whether arts venues can run performances.

Large parts of the Midlands, North East and North West, including Manchester will be in tier three. In tier three, entertainment venues must remain closed meaning many Christmas programmes such as pantomimes, will not be able to go ahead in venues in these parts of England.

The majority of the country will be in tier two, including London and Liverpool. Arts venues can open in areas under tier one and two restrictions. The creative team behind Pantoland due to open at the London Palladium in December have confirmed that the show will go ahead as planned.

In a statement, the show announced, "Following today's announcement, we are relieved and delighted to confirm that performances of Pantoland at The Palladium are able to go ahead as planned from 12 December."

Despite being allowed to run performances, tighter restrictions on capacity mean some shows planned for venues in tier two or lower are even less economically viable than they were in this challenging climate.

The Royal Albert Hall issued a statement regarding Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of The Nutcracker due to take place this year, "It is with great disappointment that we have had to cancel Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of The Nutcracker at the Royal Albert Hall this year.

"The government restrictions from 2 December will limit public attendance at indoor events to 1,000 people. This limit makes it financially impossible to stage a production of this scale, especially at a time when both the Royal Albert Hall and Birmingham Royal Ballet have suffered losses of tens of millions of pounds.

We had been determined to share The Nutcracker this year and had been investigating various options including a streamed performance, but the costs were just too great to make this a viable option."

The uncertainty around changing guidance for arts venues continues to cause major challenges for the UK's theatre and arts sector.

Photo credit: Royal Albert Hall

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