Andrew Lloyd Webber has urged the government to provide clarity on when theatres can reopen fully.
He said he had heard from sources in the government that its “aspiration” is November, but said: “No one can do that on the basis of an aspiration. We need a date we can open on.”
In an interview with the BBC, Lloyd Webber reiterated his plans for health and safety measures to allow theatres to reopen safely, with a pilot to test how socially distanced audiences can attend shows being held on Thursday (July 23).
He said theatres “could open tomorrow” if they had the go-ahead, but added: “I don’t think theatre is number one on the government’s list of priorities.”
In the interview, he said: “The real problem is theatre can’t run with social distancing. It’s just not economically possible. The average play needs a 65% capacity and a musical needs more, but that’s before it even starts to repay anything.”
He added that a pilot without social distancing is also needed.
“Which is why we have put all these measures in at the Palladium. Not to prove the Palladium can work, but to prove every venue can work. What I am trying to show is that with very basic measures it is possible to safely reopen theatres, [and] concert halls,” he said.
He said theatre needed to “rely on the fact” there are stringent measures to “check on the health of everybody” and said people should be tested daily.