Following the news that London – plus parts of Essex and Hertfordshire – would move into Tier 3 from 16 December 2020, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that the same measures will also apply to a much wider area of the east and south east of England from 19 December, including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, the whole of Hertfordshire, Surrey (with the exception of Waverley), Hastings and Rother, on the Kent border of East Sussex and Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant in Hampshire.
This mean that all performing arts venues located in those areas will have to close their doors from the beginning of the weekend in order to adhere to Tier 3 restrictions.
Based in Berkshire, the Watermill Theatre is among the venues having to close with performances of A Christmas Carol from 19 December 2020 to 3 January 2021 cancelled. All customers with tickets for cancelled performances will be offered access to the recently announced Video On Demand recording of the show or will receive a credit to their Watermill account, or a refund.
Artistic director Paul Hart said:
“It’s such a shame to have to cancel performances of A Christmas Carol just two weeks into the run. It’s such an uplifting and beautiful show. However, I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve been able to make the show available for audiences to watch online from their homes instead. For anyone who’s able to support us and buy a ticket via our website we’d be incredibly grateful and I take some comfort from the fact that this will allow many to still enjoy some theatre this Christmas.”
Hancock explained that cases in the South East of England were up by 46% in the last week, with hospital admissions increasing by more than a third. In the East of England, cases were up two thirds in the last week and hospital admissions had increased by nearly half.
He said: “I know that Tier 3 measures are tough. But the best way for everyone to get out of them is to pull together: not just to follow the rules, but do everything they possibly can to stop the spread of the virus. Where we’ve seen places get the virus under control and come out of Tier 3, it’s where everyone has taken responsibility on themselves to make that happen.”
For the vast majority of places currently in Tier 3, there was no change, but there was good news for Bristol and North Somerset – where rates have come down from 432 per 100,000 to 121 – with both areas moved down into Tier 2 from 19 December. In addition, Herefordshire was moved out of Tier 2 and into Tier 1.
As a result West country comedy duo Living Spit will premiere their brand new Christmas show Living Spit’s Beauty and the Beast at Bristol Old Vic this weekend, in front of a live audience. The duo had been hard at work preparing both a live production for an in-person audience, alongside a version of the show to stream digitally into people’s homes.
On hearing the news, Bristol Old Vic’s artistic director Tom Morris said: “Living Spit have been heroic in standing by with their brilliant comic Christmas extravaganza Beauty and the Beast, waiting to see whether Bristol would end up in Tier 2 and live performances would be able to start again in Bristol. I have to salute the fortitude and generosity of Living Spit who more than any other theatre company I know revel in the company of a live audience. They have been waiting in the wings for this moment and will be rushing to meet the public with all the glee and generosity that their are many fans know and love them for.”
Living Spit’s producer Ali Robertson continued: “We are relieved and delighted that we can bring festive fun to the people of Bristol this Christmas. A Christmas show at Bristol Old Vic is a treasured experience for many and we’re excited to be working with them to keep the tradition going this year.”