A five-step roadmap to get theatres reopened has been revealed by the culture secretary Oliver Dowden, who claims it provides a “clear pathway back”.
The plan includes allowing outdoor performances later this year, with a view to piloting indoor performances afterwards.
The steps are:
No dates have been provided for the implementation of each stage of the roadmap, although the first two stages are possible now.
A government statement said: “While we can not right now put timings on when we will move through each phase of the roadmap and also understand the scale of the challenge of this process, the culture secretary is clear that he wants to move through each step as soon as it is possible and the public health position allows. Guidance will accompany each of the stages.”
The phased approach being taken is similar to one used for elite sports, the government said, which it added had successfully helped the return of the Premier League.
Dowden said: “I desperately want to raise the curtain on live performances in theatres and music venues as soon we can – they are the soul of our nation and a linchpin of our world beating creative industries. We know the challenges – theatres must be full to make money, and performers need to be safe on stage as they sing, dance and play instruments – but I am determined to ensure the performing arts do not stay closed longer than is absolutely necessary to protect public health.”
He added: “We had a roadmap for elite sport, and we’ve succeeded in getting that back on. While the challenges facing performing arts are numerous, we must have clear steps to follow and provide as much certainty and focus as we can.”
He said musicians, dancers and actors could resume “training, rehearsals and recorded performances without an audience where organisations wish to”.
“We will then progress with outdoor performances with an audience – and some outdoor events are beginning to be planned for later in the summer. Alongside this we’ll do some pilots on indoor performances to identify the best mitigations to take. Eventually, and only when it is safe to do so, we’ll reintroduce indoor performances with audiences,” he said.
Dowden added: “I know the public wants its theatres open, our brilliant performers want to go back to work, and we will do all we can to get them fully back up and running. Our roadmap provides a clear pathway back.”
Entering each stage will depend on the situation regarding the pandemic and scientific evidence at that point.