Major theatre groups urge audiences to wear face coverings

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The Society of London Theatre (Solt) and UK Theatre have urged audiences to “play their part” and wear face coverings when attending shows around the country.

The groups called for theatregoers to use face coverings throughout all their buildings and respect front-of-house staff working in live venues.

Solt represents about 230 London-based producers, theatre owners and managers, including all the major subsidised theatrical organisations in London.

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UK Theatre, meanwhile, represents about 240 theatres, concert halls, dance companies, producers and arts centres across the UK.

A joint statement said: “In light of the latest UK Government advice, we ask theatregoers to play their part in taking responsibility for their own and others’ safety by wearing face coverings throughout our buildings unless exempt (or whilst actively eating and drinking).

“We also ask that audiences respect our front-of-house staff, who are working tirelessly to ensure that theatres are a welcoming place for all.

“At such a crucial time of year for the long-term health and financial security of our sector, theatres need to be able to remain open to full houses over the festive period.”

It added: “Without Government legislation it is extremely difficult to enforce the mandatory wearing of face coverings across the theatre industry – individual venues will make their own decisions regarding face coverings as a condition of entry (as is their right), and will ask their audiences to respect this.”

The call comes after the Royal Shakespeare Company reintroduced mandatory face coverings following new Government advice announced over the weekend and in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Solt and UK Theatre last year launched the See It Safely scheme, which allows venues to display a special mark once they have signed up to a code of conduct and proved they are following the latest guidance.

Approved venues receive a toolkit including the mark, which can be displayed on venues and promotional material, an animated safety video, signage and further training.

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