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Indoor performance easing decision in England met with disdain

The announcement to allow socially distanced live indoor performances in England from this weekend has been met with extensive and widespread criticism.

Seats
  The Government hopes to see at least some seats filled form the weekend on...

The UK Government has announced that live indoors performances will be able to return in England at venues from this Saturday (15th August), although only with socially distanced audiences and with compliance with extensive health and safety requirements.

The new guidance will not apply in areas where local lockdown measures are in place.

Tougher enforcement measures in respect to the wearing of facemasks where required will also be implemented — with repeat offenders liable to a fine of up to £3,200.

No change

There is no change to the current rules for amateur music making rehearsals covering groups such as brass bands.

It is understood that that has been no further change to the regulations in force in Scotland which is currently implementing Phase 3 of its guidance, or Wales, where indoor play areas, swimming pools, leisure centres, indoor fitness centres and gyms were able to reopen in Wales on 10th August.

The position in Northern Ireland remains the same. These administrations will set their own timings and guidance on changes to regulations and guidance when it is felt appropriate.

Return

Venues in England will need to follow the latest, detailed Stage Four guidance issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to take effect from 15th August, with the Prime Minster Boris Johnson reportedly stating that the decision,"...will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed".

To see guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants, go to:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts?fbclid=IwAR0xQ3_D5PAlTsWZ4nS-Zq80d1j45Y7BfU_GHnnxGjt5Hzp6H0WrslSqPr8#arts-4-7

However, he quickly added that the Government, "...will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus".

The news was released on Twitter at around 11.00pm on Thursday evening, with Government Minister Oliver Dowden saying it was, "Another important step on the recovery of the arts, helped by our £1.57bn rescue package."

In other areas of Europe some relaxed measures are being further considered with venues in Switzerland being allowed to consider up to 1000 people being allowed into concert halls under certain conditions.

Disdain

In response however, his view was greeted with an outpouring of disdain, with people highlighting the lack of detail surrounding the 'rescue package' and the help that is still not available to freelance workers.

It was also pointed out that huge questions remain over the financial viability of socially distanced audiences and the implementation of hugely expensive health and safety requirements, and even a fundamental lack of understanding from the Government of how theatres and concert hall venues actual work in being able to provide entertainment on less than two days notice.

The current guidance still states that "Singing and playing wind and brass instruments, especially in groups, are considered higher risk activities..."4BR

Meaningless

Although there was some support for the decision on social media, it was a clear minority.

A number of people called the announcement "meaningless", whilst others said the government had "not listened to anyone with any knowledge of how theatres work" and even "what clownery is this... cracking it out at 10.46 pm telling theatres they can whip a show out of the bag with less than 48 hours notice?"

Many highlighted the Government's help given to the restaurant sector with its 'eat out' subsidy initiative and felt that it would be better to await extensive results from research into areas such as aerosol production for performers and musicians before allowing venues to re-open.

High risk

The current guidance still states that "Singing and playing wind and brass instruments, especially in groups, are considered higher risk activities because of the potential for aerosol production and the absence presently of developed scientific analysis to assess this specific risk.

The evidence is being developed rapidly, but — in this initial phase — additional risk mitigation should therefore be considered in these contexts."

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