Theatres set to stay shut until at least next year despite lockdown lift – but Xmas pantos might go ahead
THEATRES are set to stay shut until at least next year despite England's lockdown restrictions being lifted – but Christmas pantos might go ahead.
Government ministers are in discussions about how they might let some festive pantomimes to go ahead under the new Covid tiered system.
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When England's four-week lockdown ends on December 2, a new, tougher tiered system is set to be established to keep coronavirus cases at bay.
But theatres are unlikely to open up before the new year.
The theatre industry was allowed to reopen from August 15 after being shut for nearly five months during the first lockdown.
At the time, Boris Johnson announced: "We will restart indoor performances to a live audience, subject to the success of pilots, and we will also pilot larger gatherings in venues like sports stadia with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn."
But many company bosses said back in August that venues could run only at 30 to 40 per cent capacity, making them economically unviable.
Socially distanced indoor performances were allowed to take place, with audience members seated together in bubbles.
However, with the announcement of the second lockdown, theatres were forced to shut their doors once again – adding more strain on the industry.
There have been discussions about how some pantomimes may be able to go ahead in the run-up to the Christmas period – however, it is not known how these will operate.
Last night, Boris Johnson was poised to bring in tough new curbs as he finalised his Covid Winter Plan.
England will be told to expect a strengthened set of regional restrictions when the country leaves lockdown on December 2 as No 10 fears the virus “could quickly run out of control again”.
A source said: “The going is going to get tough — get ready for tiers on steroids.”
It could mean some areas facing fresh measures such as extra travel bans and curbs on overnight stays.
However, the PM is expected to try to stagger drinkers’ leaving times by extending pub closing to 11pm — although last orders will be at 10pm rather than the strict curfew enforced before lockdown.
And almost all shops could reopen, but bookies and pubs that do not serve food might remain closed in places with the highest infection rates.
The pubs measure — along with keeping all non-essential retail outlets open — is set to be part of the PM’s new three-tier approach to keep the virus under control.
Beauty salons, gyms and hairdressers are also set to reopen on December 2 in a huge morale boost before Christmas.
And kids' team sports may also be allowed to return when lockdown ends in a boost for grassroots games.
Boris Johnson will outline his full winter Covid recovery plan to curb the spread of the virus tomorrow.
After tomorrow’s announcement, people face a nervous wait until Thursday when they will be told which areas will be placed into the various tiers.
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