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UK to resume socially distanced indoor performances from August 15

Indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will be permitted from Saturday in the UK, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Oliver Dowden revealed in a series of tweets late on Thursday (local time).

ANI | London | Updated: 14-08-2020 16:40 IST | Created: 14-08-2020 16:37 IST
UK to resume socially distanced indoor performances from August 15
The National's Olivier Theatre (Image courtesy: Instagram). Image Credit: ANI

Indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will be permitted from Saturday in the UK, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Oliver Dowden revealed in a series of tweets late on Thursday (local time). According to Variety, indoor venues were due to reopen on August 1 but were postponed due to a rise in coronavirus cases at the end of July.

"Important COVID update on @DCMS areas. With everyone's hard work we've continued to keep the virus under control so we can now allow more leisure, sport and cultural activities to reopen safely," tweeted Dowen. The theatre sector has been one of the hardest hit in the UK due to the prolonged closure. A high profile casualty was Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera.' In July, the government announced a USD 1.9 billion lifeline for the arts sector.

As Variety reported, the Director of Theaters Trust, Jon Morgan said, "Theaters Trust is pleased that theatres have been given the go-ahead for socially distanced indoor performances. We hope that those theatres impacted by the delay will be able to resume with the shows originally planned. However, while this is a step in the right direction, it is just a small step. The majority of theatres will not be able to reopen while social distancing is still in place and with no decision on this being made until November at the earliest, the theatre sector is still in very grave danger of irreparable damage." The opening of theatres was hinted last week when London's The Bridge Theater announced a David Hare play starring Ralph Fiennes that could open in September. And the National Theater has announced a late October reopening, beginning with one person play 'Death of England: Delroy,' by Clint Dyer and Roy Williams, to be directed by Dyer, and performed by Giles Terera.

Dowden's announcement has attracted comment on social media. Paul Fleming, General Secretary-elect of creative sector union Equity, tweeted: "If the full audience isn't back, the full workforce won't be back. This news makes clear that all @EquityUK members need income support, or we'll lose diverse talent from theatre & variety. I hope @OliverDowden will meet with me soon & support our union's four-pillar plan."

Independent theatre producer Jo Crowley tweeted: "But social distancing necessitates underwriting loss. That's why as a UK co we'll get work on the overseas way before here." November will be the earliest when the government would look at reconsidering social distancing rules.


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