London Theatres Reopen with Safety Measures in Place
The Reopening of London Theatres
London’s West End theatres opened their doors to the public on May 17th - after a break that lasted for more than a year. While the theatres were allowed to briefly function last year, not many could actually follow through. This year, however, things are different. The ongoing vaccination drive has created a newfound sense of optimism in the general public. Add to that the stringent safety measures and protocols put in place by the government and the London theatres are now actively welcoming back audiences.
Classics such as the Mousetrap, Mamma Mia, and the Lion King have already announced their opening dates. This year will also see a host of new productions like Cinderella and the Drifters Girl, adding to the excitement of all theatre enthusiasts.
See It Safely
London’s West End has finally opened up with safety measures firmly in place. To make sure that all theatre-goers have a safe and comfortable experience, the Society of London Theatre has developed an industry-wide mark - ‘See it Safely’ - for all theatres that follow the necessary COVID guidelines recommended by the government as well as the performing arts guidelines. Since the ‘See it Safely’ mark will only be granted to certain approved theatres that follow all the necessary safety guidelines, viewers can make sure of their safety and book their London theatre tickets with confidence.
Safety Measures Undertaken by London Theatres
Here are the safety guidelines a theatre needs to follow to be granted the ‘See it Safely’ mark.
- Reduced Seating Capacities - Theatres are functioning at reduced capacities. Indoor venues will either open at half capacity or with 1000 seats, whichever is lower. This is to ensure that there is no overcrowding at the venue. Outdoor theatres can accommodate up to 4000 guests.
- Socially distanced seats - Group bookings can be made for up to 5 seats. There will be sufficient gaps among different groups. Therefore, while you can sit next to your family and friends, there will be a considerable distance between your group and the rest of the theatre.
- Increased Sanitization - All high-contact areas will be sanitized in set intervals. The theatre, including the seat and floors, will be sanitized after every show. Additionally, sanitizers will be made available at different points.
- Temperature Checks - All viewers have to undergo temperature checks upon entry into the venue. You will be allowed entry inside only if your temperature is normal.
- Masks - Protective gear such as masks are compulsory to gain entry into the theatre. All visitors are encouraged to wear additional safety gear like gloves.
- Travel Routes - Upon entering the building, a theatre representative will guide you to the theatre in a socially distanced manner. This will greatly reduce your interaction with other theatre-goers and will ensure that social distancing is maintained.
- E-tickets - Physical tickets will not be used anymore. They will be replaced with either print-at-home tickets or e-tickets in an effort to minimize contact.
- Pre-ordering of refreshments - In order to make sure that the bar area does not get overcrowded during the intermission, visitors will have the facility of pre-ordering their drinks and snacks.
- Some facilities may not be in function - Some theatres may close their cloakrooms and other high-contact facilities temporarily. Therefore, guests are requested to carry minimum belongings with them.
Who can not attend West End shows?
- You are requested to not attend the show if you:
- Believe you are COVID positive
- Have experienced symptoms in the last 14 days
- Have been in close proximity to anyone who has experienced symptoms in the last 14 days
- Have arrived in England in the last 14 days and are not covered by the exemption rules relating to self-isolation or
- Have been instructed to self-isolate
What is Different about the Theatre-Going Experience?
Considering the various COVID-19 protocols that have been put in place, it is safe for us to assume that the theatre-going experience will be different in the coming months. Read on to find out what to expect.
Book in Advance
Even though it has barely been a couple of weeks since London’s West End reopened, reduced capacities and the excitement among theatre-goers have caused quite a few shows to fill up. Therefore, it is advisable to book your London theatre tickets at least a day or two in advance.
For all those who do not wish to make advance bookings, the TKTS booth is now online. Interested people can purchase same-day tickets through this facility.
Socially Distanced Shows
Once the show starts, you will notice that the orchestra is slightly away from the actors on an elevated platform. They are separated from the actors with a glass panel. The actors, too, have to take many precautions. Other than regular tests, a dressing room bubble system has been developed based on who the actors share the stage with.
Food & Beverages
If you wish to head over to the bar, you will be required to follow a contact-free one-way system. You will be guided by the theatre staff to the bar where you can collect your pre-ordered snacks and drinks. Instead of one long queue, there are designated spaces for multiple short queues where guests can observe social distancing. All guests are encouraged to use contactless payment methods.
Is Social Distancing Here to Stay?
According to the government’s reopening roadmap, there will be no need for social distancing measures in the near future. From June 21 onwards, theatres will function normally, with no reduction in their seating capacity.
However, this roadmap is not set in stone and is subject to change according to the situation. Therefore, some theatres will sell tickets in accordance with social-distancing norms for shows that are being staged post June 21 also. If the restrictions are indeed lifted on the said date, these theatres might sell tickets for the remaining seats at a later date. Therefore, all theatre enthusiasts are required to check with the theatre they plan to visit.
London Theatre Reopening FAQ
Yes. London theatres opened its doors to the public after a long gap on 17th May.
Death Drop, Love Letter, and Roles We'll Never Play are a few shows currently being showcased at London theatres.
Yes. Increased sanitization, pre-ordering facilities for food, contactless payments, paperless tickets, reduced seating capacities, etc, are some of the safety measures undertaken by London theatre.
Yes. Apart from social distancing methods, all safety measures are being followed by London theatres to ensure that the audience has a safe and comfortable theatre-going experience.
London theatre has developed an industry-wide mark called ‘See it Safely’ which will only be issued to theatres that follow all the government and performing arts guidelines.
Yes. Even though London theatre has only recently reopened its doors to the public, tickets are selling fast. Therefore, it is advisable to book your London theatre tickets at least a day or two in advance.
According to the roadmap issued by the government, theatres can start functioning without social-distancing measures from 21st June.