In the House of Commons on 22nd February, Boris Johnson stated that theatres could reopen again under step three of the government’s roadmap. This will be alongside an easing of rules on social contact, hospitality venues such as B&Bs and hostels reopening, as well as weddings and wakes permitted. Find information on the government’s roadmap, see here.
In March of last year, all theatres were forced to close. Needless to say how damaging it has been for the community. All venues nationwide are currently closed and theatres are eagerly anticipating a return to live performances in-person.
So when will theatres reopen and what do theatres need to do to make sure they are prepared?
When will theatres reopen in the UK?
The provisional date for a full reopening of theatres in the UK is 21st June. This is the final step of the roadmap where all restrictions will be lifted. Theatres will be allowed to open to full capacity, however MPs have floated the idea of vaccine passports. Lateral flow testing for nightclubs and theatres could be implemented – no news or legislation on this has been confirmed.
When theatres are given the go ahead to open again, there may well be conditions to meet for indoor venues. This will include rules and restrictions, ventilation, smaller casts and reduced waiting times. More information on this can be found in our article Dealing with COVID-19 for the UK Theatre industry.
Some theatres have been permitted to reopen before 21st June on a preliminary basis. This includes outdoor venues and those performing for online audiences. The outdoor Shakespeare theatres, including London’s Globe theatre, are planning a quick reopening to socially distant outdoor audiences. Casts and creative teams are already beginning to prepare, anticipating a lift of the suspension sooner than the set roadmap date.
With plenty of casts preparing for a busy summer, theatres also need to make sure they are prepared. Here’s what your box office and theatre venue can do to open safely.
5 things to do before opening up your theatre?
1. Implement a digital ticketing payment system
Preventing wait times and shortening queues is important to reducing the risk of COVID transmission. Following many other service industries, box offices should be taking the lead and going digital. Contactless and online payments severely cut down wait times and make the whole process of purchasing a ticket safer and easier.
2. Pre-ordered food and drink
Queues in theatres are most prevalent around the interval and at the bar before and after shows. To eliminate queues, theatres should consider making all food and drink requests pre-order only. This would make purchasing amenities and providing hospitality easier and safer.
3. Hand sanitising stations and one-way systems
Similar to many other establishments preparing, protect the public by providing sanitising stations to reduce the risk of infection. Theatres are notorious for tight spaces and small walkways, implementing a one-way system from box office entrance, to bar, to seats will help audiences feel organised and safe.
4. Take extra measures to clean theatres and ensure staff are ready
Staff will need extra training before reopening. After being out either on furlough or away from the theatre for over a year, staff will require a refresh before the five-minute bell. They may need instruction on how to clean the venue. Venues should be properly and thoroughly cleaned after every performance.
5. Implement Booking Protection
With Booking Protect, everyone wins. Due to COVID and the unpredictability of present times, its ever more likely customers will miss out on booked performances. Having purchased Booking Protect’s refund protection they could be eligible to claim for a refund. Implementing Booking Protect will allow you to direct customers to us, as well as eliminate a large amount of refund requests. Customers will then be happier, receive money back, and feel better about purchasing with you again. As a great extension to your brand, Booking Protect will also earn you money, gaining extra revenue through each sale with no additional cost. Booking Protect’s refund protection is a must have for theatre venues and box offices when planning to reopen.
Click to find out more about Refund Protection and how you can implement it.