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UK venues could reopen without social distancing measures within weeks

Theatres and stadiums in the UK could welcome fans back without social distancing measures within weeks under accelerated plans by the government.

The Times reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden last week ordered officials to move swiftly to encourage crowds back into large venues.

While the Government had been targeting November 1 as the date that social distancing rules could be lifted, it is understood the Prime Minister wants to accelerate the plan for theatres and sports events on the understanding spectators can be tested in advance.

Reports also suggest the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme could be reformed into ‘Seat out to help out’, with one idea seeing discounted meals on Mondays for those with a ticket that day

As it stands, venues and theatres can only run at 25 per cent capacity, though many in the industry would argue that this is not financially viable and that figure needs to be between 70 per cent and 80 per cent. Large sports venues need to be 60 per cent full.

The removal of social distancing measures would allow theatres to reopen to full capacity.

Theatres were allowed to open from August 15 with strict social distancing measures in place, though many opted to remain closed.

Neil Mendoza, the commissioner for cultural recovery and renewal, said, The Times reports: “We’ve got all sorts of ideas spinning around at the moment. ‘Eat out to help out’ was fantastic. Normally when you discount things it is seen as a bad thing to do. But in this case accepting discounts and going out was seen as a patriotic activity and a way to help a struggling sector. It was really effective.

“There is nothing to stop any cultural organisation using differential pricing to get people back.”

Image: Andreas Praefcke /  CC BY 3.0  / Edited for size