Theatres won't reopen 'for some time' as social distancing makes it 'extremely challenging', say Government

17 June 2020, 20:30

Theatres won't be opening anytime soon
Theatres won't be opening anytime soon. Picture: Getty

The news follows many major West End productions such as Hamilton announcing they won't be reopening until 2021 at the earliest.

Tonight's Downing Street press conference saw the Culture Secretary address a number of new coronavirus-related issues.

Oliver Dowden spoke alone and stated that we might not see live events and theatre production being able to reopen for a very significant amount of time as it poses many issues.

Tonight's briefing saw the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden address the issue
Tonight's briefing saw the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden address the issue. Picture: Sky News

His comments follow many West End productions stating that they will not be running any shows for the rest of 2020 and they're unsure when they'll be able to start operating again.

Popular musical Hamilton, which runs at London's Victoria Palace made a statement today on their Instagram account about the future of the show, along with fellow musicals Les Miserables, Mary Poppins and Phanton of the Opera.

It reads: "Update regarding performances of #HamiltonLDN: In response to the continued uncertainty over when the government is going to completely withdraw social distancing measures and allow the safe return of theatre productions Cameron Mackintosh, his producing partners and Delfont Mackintosh Theatres have had to take the difficult decision of delaying the return of their productions of Les Misérables, Mary Poppins, Hamilton and The Phantom of the Opera until as early as practical in 2021.

"All customers who have booked to date will be contacted directly by the box office, or their original point of purchase, and offered a credit voucher which can be used for priority booking when new booking dates are announced, or a refund."

Dowden addressed the performing arts industry's concerns, after he was asked about the 2m distancing rule and whether it could be reduced to speed up the return of indoor cinema and theatre performances.

He explained that a review into the distancing measures is still ongoing, and that reducing the measure to 1m would help cinemas, but would still not be enough to help theatres to reopen for some time.

He says he's spoken to producers, including Andrew Lloyd Webber, to see what he has done for his productions in South Korea.

"I do have to say that it is going to be very challenging" he said.

While events such as football will be able to return in coming weeks - without a stadium of supporters - the Secretary of State said that the hard-hit cultural sector is being discussed in detail and that the government has made a "lot of progress".

He says it is clear there is a need for greater flexibility to overcome specific and practical obstacles for live performances to return, and that there will be work over the next week to explore how live performances can be made safe during the pandemic.