Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has pledged to work with performers and the theatre industry in the coming weeks to develop "innovative ideas" that will allow venues to reopen.
He acknowledged that social distancing makes staging performances "exceptionally difficult" for theatres, and that the industry would need a different approach to other sectors.
"It is clear that we do need greater flexibility to overcome some of the very specific and practical obstacles to the return of live performance, so that’s why over the next weeks, we will be convening experts in a targeted way, bringing together our leading performers from theatre, choirs and orchestras with medical experts and advisors.
"The idea is that they will work together, in detail, to develop that roadmap, which is so badly needed, towards performing safely, with a particular focus on piloting innovative ideas that may permit live performances," he said.
Speaking as he took the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Dowden said the cultural renewal taskforce, and the subsidiary working group for entertainment, had made "a lot of progress" but that a specific group would explore the issues in detail.
Dowden said he had spoken about the measures being put in place in South Korea with Andrew Lloyd Webber, who has productions running in Seoul, and the how those measures could work in the UK, but said it would be "very challenging" to do so.
At the briefing, Dowden did not give any details of a potential rescue package for the industry, but said the government is continuing to "look at what further support we can give theatres during this challenging time".
Last week, he said he was in advanced discussions with the Treasury over a deal.
"I know how essential our theatres, our music venues and the performing arts are to our wider cultural ecosystem. Culture is our calling card, it’s respected around the world, and I am determined to work with them and across government to support it and to preserve its world-leading position," he said.
Dowden’s comments around reopening come as Cameron Mackintosh announces that his West End productions will not reopen this year, with shows such as Les Misérables and Hamilton returning to the stage in early 2021, while their casts may now face redundancy.
He blamed government uncertainty over social distancing for preventing the industry from being able to plan.
When asked about Mackintosh’s announcement, Dowden said the producer was "one of dozens of people I’ve spoken to" about the challenges, adding: "We are working to resolve them."