At the start, there was a certain novelty about kitchen discos for two and streaming world-class performances straight to our sofas. But the sheen wore off faster than we could say ‘unprecedented’. Now, after a long five months of shuttered doors for theatres and music venues, things are on the up. Today, the government is poised to announced when indoor performances can go ahead to socially distanced audiences in England. And the start date is tomorrow (Saturday August 15).
‘Today, we are able to announce some further changes which will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed,’ said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is set to announce the changes in the lockdown rules later today – with a host of venues and events back on the agenda.
Not only will indoor performances be reintroduced, but close-contact spa and beauty treatments, wedding receptions for up to 30 guests, ice rinks, bowling alleys and casinos will also make a comeback. And the government is expected to announce trialling new formats for spectator sports so that fans can get back in the crowd very soon.
‘The nation’s hard work to keep the virus under control means we can now make further careful progress on recovery with allowing audiences back for indoor performances, fans back at sports events and the reopening of more Covid-19-secure leisure businesses,’ said culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
This might all feel like yet another U-turn. It was just two weeks ago when theatres and other leisure venues had the brakes put on their slated reopening for August 1. Now those venues are set to reopen again, with live music venues added into the mix. It’s still bad news for clubbers, though, with nightclubs and discos among the few venue-types still prevented from opening to the public.
With the new relaxing of measures comes a tightening of punishments for those found flouting the rules. Fines have been increased to a potential £3,200 if caught without a face covering in public spaces where their use is now required, and organisers of illegal gatherings of over 30 people could be looking at a £10,000 fine.
And don’t go expecting any moshpit action any time soon. Trial concerts and performances were put on at the Clapham Grand last month and saw audience capacities slashed, while similar trials at the London Palladium were described as ‘a rather sad sight’ by the theatre’s owner Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Not sure on the current guidelines? Here’s when and where you’ll need to wear a face mask in London.
And what about travel? Here are the countries you can currently visit without facing quarantine.