Industry figures have reacted to the news that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is removing ‘Plan B’ restrictions in England from Thursday next week.

‘Plan B’ constituted wearing masks inside venues, theatre and at events, and also presenting proof of vaccination against COVID-19 through a COVID pass upon entry. While these measures will no longer be mandatory, venues can continue to use the COVID pass if they wish.

The return to ‘Plan A’ has been welcomed by those in theatre and the night time economy, which have been heavily affected by restrictions over the last couple of years.

Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre chief executive Julian Bird said that while the relaxing of restrictions is welcomed by theatres across the country, theatre-goers should consider continuing to wear masks to protect staff, performers and fellow attendees.

Bird said: “The relaxing of Plan B measures, particularly the end of mandatory home working, should provide a confidence boost to the theatre industry after several weeks of turbulence and uncertainty.

“Throughout the pandemic, theatres UK-wide have worked tirelessly to offer world-class entertainment and audiences can be assured that venues using the See it Safely mark, developed by SOLT and UK Theatre, are operating in accordance with the latest Government guidelines.”

He added: “As restrictions ease, we continue to ask theatre-goers to wear face coverings throughout our buildings unless exempt, to protect our hardworking staff, performers and fellow audience members.”

SOLT represents approximately 230 London-based producers, theatre owners and managers while UK Theatre represents around 240 theatres, concert halls, dance companies, producers and arts centres across the whole of the UK.

Trafalgar Entertainment, which was created by Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) founders Sir Howard Panter and Dame Rosemary Squire in 2017, is an international live entertainment business.

In a statement, the company said the announcement brought with it optimism and hopes for a cultural resurgence. It said: “The lifting of Plan B restrictions in England is a hugely positive step forward. Our industry has battled on since Omicron was first identified and after a particularly difficult few months beset with cancellations, infections and uncertainty, we can now pick up the pace of recovery.

“COVID will be around for many years, so now is the right time to learn to live with it. Thanks to the UK’s successful booster vaccination programme, life can start to return to normal. As we look ahead to 2022 and beyond, we can start to feel more optimistic and we are excited to be at the forefront of this cultural resurgence.”

Yesterday, when the announcement was made by Johnson, Michael Kill, chief executive of Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said: “We welcome the removal of the restrictions for the night time economy and hospitality sector.

“Following an extremely difficult two years for the night time economy and hospitality sector, which has been, in every sense, at the sharpest end of the pandemic throughout, we are finally able to plan for the future with some level of certainty and without debilitating restrictions.”

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