Boris Johnson has just announced the roadmap for easing out of lockdown in the Houses of Parliament, ahead of addressing the Nation at 7pm tonight.
Thankfully this time, theatres are included in the roadmap so for the first time in a long while we have a clear idea of when and how theatres will return.
NOW - MAY 16th
Theatres must remain closed. The roadmap is split in four steps with a gap of five weeks inbetween each stage to ensure we are moving in the right direction. This is a slower timeline than before but hopefully ensures this will be the last lockdown and we can get back to some sense of normality in the not too distant future.
Step one is March 8th and step two is April 12th. That does mean that theatre performances, even social distanced ones, will be unable to go ahead from now until step three which is due to commence on May 17th.
Social distanced performances from shows such as Six and Everybody's Talking About Jamie and the planned 100% capacity performances from shows including Hamilton and Les Miserables will be unable to open as planned.
Please be patient while venues sort out all of these rescheduled dates and possible cancellations as this is not going to be an easy task.
Beginning on April 4th, a series of pilot schemes using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing will be trialled. These findings will then be used to determine a consistent approach to lift restrictions on these events as part of step 4 in June.
Drive in performances will be able to take place under step two. As long as the date goes ahead, April 12th will see these happen with social distancing performances. It looks like outdoor theatre such as open air theatre will have to wait until step 3 in May to recommence.
This is the tentative date when theatres will be able to re-open in England, as step three begins. This means that performances can resume in theatres with social distanced guidelines - basically the same as we have had for the brief time venues have been able to re-open since theatres were closed in March 2020.
Under step 3, theatres will be able to welcome audiences back with 1000 people or 50% of their usual capacity.
Each date of the steps will be finalised with 7 days notice, so if this is given the green light to go ahead on May 17th, we won't get official confirmation until May 14th - so we should be able to estimate this based on the daily figures.
This is the date you need to put in your diaries along with a picture of crossed fingers. This is the hoped date when restrictions can be completely dropped. This would mean that theatres would be able to re-open with no social distancing measures in place.
Basically, this would be the date things return to normal. Obviously this is all dependant on what happens in the few months before, and again this would only happen with one weeks notice. However, for the first time in a year we have a date when theatres may be able to re-open. While it may need to change, let's stay hopeful this can go ahead and on June 21st we can all sit in a 100% capacity theatre.
It's important to remember these are the "earliest dates" so are subject to change but let's hope this can go ahead.
It may seem like there is still a while to go, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and for the first time, we have a realistic and perhaps sensible roadmap. With more people being vaccinated every day, I truly believe the worst is over and we will be back where we belong very soon.
It's tough at the moment and it's going to remain tough for a few more months but the end of this is coming. Stay positive as the future is going to be so much better.
Here are steps 3 and 4 in full: