Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed via social media that rehearsals can go ahead at arts venues during the forthcoming four-week Coronavirus lockdown from 5 November to 2 December 2020 as they are regarded as ‘places of work’. Live-streamed performances are also allowed but audiences are not permitted.
While it was stated that production of film and TV shows could continue under strict health and sanitation guidelines in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement about the national lockdown on 31 October, there was some confusion over whether rehearsals for forthcoming theatre productions could take place.
However, on Twitter Dowden said: “Arts venues are places of work, so people can come into them for work, if it cannot be undertaken from home. This includes rehearsals and performance. Audiences are not permitted.”
News of a second lockdown has been devastating for producers and artists who have worked hard to make both venues and productions Covid secure.
This latest news from Dowden will at least mean creatives and performers will be able to rehearse in order to be ready to go ahead with shows once the lockdown has been lifted and the country has returned to the tier level system. Theatres planning to live-stream productions during the period will also be encouraged by the statement.
Previously Jon Morgan, director of the Theatres Trust, had commented:
“We are seeking urgent clarification whether theatre rehearsals, alongside television and film production, can continue as without this Christmas shows will not go ahead. This further setback means theatres will need to further delay their reopenings and many will still be unable to do so viably under the three tier system. While we are grateful that the government has extended the furlough scheme for a further month to cover lockdown, theatres still need further sector specific support beyond the end of November to ensure this latest blow does not lead to more closures.”