Culture minister Caroline Dinenage has said she is "continually challenging" the government on whether the two-metre social distancing rule is necessary for theatres.
Dinenage has been chairing meetings of the Entertainment and Events Working Group, part of the government’s Cultural Renewal Taskforce, which is exploring how to rebuild the arts sectors post Covid-19.
Speaking on BBC Radio 3 in an interview with Anne McElvoy, Dinenage said: "I’m continually challenging [the two-metre social distancing guidance] with our colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Care and elsewhere in government."
She added: "I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t keep holding their feet to the fire saying: ’are we sure this is still what we need?’ and my challenge is always that if you’re in a theatre you’re not speaking face-to-face with somebody.
"I will keep the challenge up. At the moment the government is led by the science, but they’ve always said they’ll keep it under review."
Her comments follow widespread concerns from industry leaders that many theatres will not be able to open with social distancing measures in place, with a recent West End recovery plan warning that keeping the rule in place would leave "every auditorium unable to open economically".
Dinenage also revealed a range of financial support measures the group has been discussing.
She said: "You’ll have seen for example that [director] Sam Mendes was in the media over the weekend about the potential of the government acting as financial backers, producers if you like, so it’s a tax payer investment rather than a bailout.
"We’re looking at ideas like that and we’re looking at tax credits, grants and bailouts."
In a panel discussion broadcast after the interview, actor Bertie Carvel said that the idea of socially distancing backstage and on stage is "complete nonsense".
"I think in terms of the workforce, we’re caught between the devil and the deep blue sea really," he said.
"We’re all eager to get back to work and we spend long enough waiting for a job to come along, we don’t want to wait any longer, but we want to be safe.
"We can’t afford not to go back to work as soon as it’s allowed, but it’s very unlikely that we’ll be truly safe, whatever guidelines might be issued. The idea of socially distancing backstage and on stage is complete nonsense."
Carvel added: "Imagine the play Noises Off, half of which takes place seeing what’s going on behind the scenes. Imagine that play if everybody had to be two metres apart - it would be completely farcical.
"I think that given the vulnerability that this exposes the workforce [to], what we should really be talking hard about [is the safety of the] freelance workforce."
The panel discussion on the future of theatre post Covid-19 was part of the Lockdown Theatre Festival, which is broadcasting four theatre productions that were cancelled due to Covid-19 on BBC Radio 3 and 4 on June 13 and 14.