Theatres are the bedrock of our society, along with the hospitality industry and other entertainment venues. These places bring people together but, as they also provide space for mass gatherings, have been forced to close due to the dangers of coronavirus. With lockdown measures easing, however, many are looking to our government to provide information on when they will reopen.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to the nation on May 10, outlining his thinking on how the lockdown measures may be eased in the coming months.
He introduced new criteria for the lockdown easing, such as the new ‘alert levels’ of COVID-19, as well as reiterating how the level of the pandemic must have decreased sufficiently to meet the five tests before the measures can be adjusted.
While some have been confused as to what this means for them and their families, the new guidelines, produced on May 11, speak more clearly about public places and leisure facilities, explaining when the government would consider reopening them.
The government document states: “The next step will also take place when the assessment of risk warrants further adjustments to the remaining measures.
“The Government’s current planning assumption is that this step will be no earlier than 4 July, subject to the five tests justifying some or all of the measures below, and further detailed scientific advice, provided closer to the time, on how far we can go.
“The ambition at this step is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas). They should also meet the COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
“Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part.
“Nevertheless the Government will wish to open as many businesses and public places as the data and information at the time allows.”
The guidelines make clear leisure facilities such as cinemas and theatres will not be allowed to open until July 4 at the earliest, which ironically is known as Independence Day in the USA.
However, this will only be permitted if the five tests are met, which includes the NHS not being overwhelmed by the virus, and there being a consistent fall in the death rate.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also made clear in his speech how many of these plans are “conditional,” meaning they are still subject to change should there be further complications or the five tests are not met.
He also made clear how the government would be willing to strip back freedoms if there are risks to people’s lives, meaning while theatres could be closer to reopening, they also could be as close to remaining closed if there are further risks.
Theatres across the globe, including the West End, may be closed, but many are attempting to find ways for fans to get their theatre fix while stuck at home.
The National Theatre, based on the Southbank in London, has been making many of its shows available to stream online for fans.
Each week, a new show is added, with the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein and One Man, Two Guvnors starring James Corden in the listings.
At present, Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo’s turns in Antony and Cleopatra are available to stream on the NT YouTube channel.
Shakespeare’s Globe has also been showing its plays, with Macbeth currently available to stream online.
For fans of musicals, there are similar options open, with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Universal teaming up on The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel.
This channel has seen some Lloyd Webber favourites come to the small screen, with huge hits such as The Phantom of the Opera and Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat among the names.
This week, Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical Cats will be hitting the channel for just 24 hours, so fans should make sure to check out the channel for all the information.
However, for at least the next six weeks, theatres themselves will remain closed until more is revealed by the government.
Published at Mon, 11 May 2020 14:28:00 +0000