Indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will be allowed to return in England from Saturday 15th August (except for areas with local restrictions in place).
Venues had been given the go-ahead to reopen from Saturday 1st August, however, the government’s ‘roadmap to recovery’ was paused for two weeks following a rise in Covid-19 cases at the end of July.
The government says that “the situation now appears to have levelled off.”
In a series of tweets late on Thursday 13th August, culture secretary Oliver Dowden wrote:
“With everyone’s hard work we’ve continued to keep the virus under control so we can now allow more leisure, sport and cultural activities to reopen safely.
“Indoor Performances with socially distanced audiences will be permitted from this weekend,” he added. “Another important step on the recovery of the arts, helped by our £1.57bn rescue package. This Government is #HereForCulture.”
Responding to the news, the Music Venue Trust (MVT), which has been campaigning to save under threat music venues across the UK, said the move was “broadly welcome”, but that only “about 100 across the country of the 900 currently closed” would be able to comply with the new guidelines.
In a statement, the MVT said: “Unfortunately, it remains the case that the vast majority of grassroots music venues are not financially viable, or even have the physical premises layout to deliver these newly permitted events.
“Those that can make social distancing work will be unlikely to be able to stage government compliant events tomorrow with this much notice.”
The announcement follows a UK-wide "day of action" by the events industry on Tuesday 11 August. The #WeMakeEvents campaign is calling on the government to save over 100,000 jobs in the live sector.
Under the new rules published by the government, "nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques" must remain closed, while new fines will be introduced for people "hosting raves or other unlawful gatherings of more than 30 people."
The announcement means a move to stage four of the government’s roadmap, allowing indoor and outdoor performances with reduced capacity audiences.
Stage five, the final stage of the plan, will see ‘fuller crowds’ return to events.
Promoters and venues can find the government's updated performing arts guidelines here.