Covid restrictions will be pushed back until next month: senior ministers have signed off a decision to delay the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions in England beyond 21 June, the BBC has confirmed. The decision is to enable more people to be vaccinated and receive second doses amid rising cases of the Delta variant.
The PM has decided to ignore the warnings from the hospitality and theatre industries that the situation is “not sustainable”.
While theatres reopened their doors to audiences in mid-May after months of restrictions, social distancing rules have meant venues still cannot operate as normal, with many venues remaining closed despite the easing of restrictions as it is not financially viable for them to open with reduced numbers.
Producer Sonia Friedman wrote today: "Commercial producers face an impossible challenge as they try to fill theatres against a backdrop of chronic uncertainty with finite resources and next to no government support. We are contractually bound, and feel morally obliged, to put on shows – bringing work to the sector and entertainment to audiences. But we have no safety net".
Andrew Lloyd Webber has recently told The Telegraph the Government can “come to theatre and arrest us” in the event the venues open against restrictions if the lockdown end date is extended, adding that this is an opportunity for ministers to show they “really do care about the musicians and the actors and all who work in live events”.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “the Government regards theatre as a nice thing to have rather than a necessity.” Aside from Dowden, he has had no dealings with the top brass. “I don’t know Boris at all,” he remarks, with some acidity. “He has shown no interest in getting in touch.”
Now that the lockdown easing has been delayed, what will happen?