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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden unveils a five-step system to help reopen theatres.

ALTHOUGH no fixed dates have yet been given, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has unveiled a five-step system to help reopen theatres. They are:

Stage One – Rehearsal and training, though with no audiences and all adhering to social distancing guidelines

Stage Two – Performances for broadcast and recording purposes (adhering to social distancing guidelines)

Stage Three – Performances outdoors with an audience plus pilots for indoor performances with a limited distance audience

Stage Four – Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (but with a limited distanced audience indoors)

Stage Five – Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (with a fuller audience indoors)

Dowden said: “We know the challenges – theatres must be full to make money, and performers need to be safe on stage as they sing, dance and play instruments – but I am determined to ensure the performing arts do not stay closed longer than is absolutely necessary to protect public health.

“Right now, we are supporting musicians, dancers and actors to safely resume training, rehearsals and recorded performances without an audience where organisations wish to. We will then progress with outdoor performances with an audience – and some outdoor events are beginning to be planned for later in the summer. Alongside this we’ll do some pilots on indoor performances to identify the best mitigations to take. Eventually, and only when it is safe to do so, we’ll reintroduce indoor performances with audiences.”

Each stage will, of course, depend, on where the country is in terms of the pandemic and rate of infection.

However, no details of a financial package to help theatres and artists, which hundreds of industry leaders have been asking for for many weeks, was mentioned.