Monday 19th July is a big day, “freedom day”: the date the British government seeks to end all legal, social, and economic restrictions imposed to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This means that in England theatres will be to operate at full capacity – without social distancing.
The prime minister has appealed to Britons’ common sense. “I generally urge everyone to keep thinking of others and to consider the risks,” Johnson said.
The UK government has issued further guidance for live events that is – at least – contradictory.
From Monday there will be no requirement to wear face masks. However, the government encourage strongly the use of face coverings inside venues.
The NHS track and trace will not be a legal requirement, but theatres are encouraged to maintain its use.
Also, some theatres are already requiring the Covid status, also called Covid Passport, through proof of testing or vaccination.
Further guidance includes people with symptoms to be turned away from venues and ventilation and possible use of CO2 monitors.
Some people have revealed on Twitter that they are not likely to go to the theatre after Freedom Day, whether they are nervous about catching the virus or irritated by being required to wear masks upon entry. But many others feel reassured by the Covid passports and face masks required.
“People are confused and have no idea what will be happening from Monday because the government has decided to wash their hands of it,” said Jeremy Joseph (G-A-Y).
Many businesses are privately irked at effectively being asked to take sides in the debate over whether wearing masks and other Covid-secure measures should continue. “It’s an invidious position to be put in,” said one. “The whole issue is very divisive”.
One thing is sure: acrimony and confusion are not good for theatres and other venues.
Below, more information about the Covid passport:
NHS COVID Pass
The NHS COVID Pass is available if you are registered with a GP in England and:
- have had a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine (a full course is currently 2 doses of any of the Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine, or one dose of the Janssen single-dose vaccine)
- have had your second dose of the vaccine at least 2 weeks ago
- were vaccinated in England
- are aged 16 or over
- and/or have logged your negative Lateral Flow Test results in the public reporting system