On Wednesday, the north east will be heading straight into the “very high” tier – tier 3. This means non essential shops can reopen and people will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six in outdoor public spaces, but pubs bars and restaurants in Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and County Durham will have to stay shut…..And, unlike some other parts of the country, theatre audiences will not be allowed to go to the theatre.
This news has left theatre producers and creative teams across the North East in total shock. After months of planning a Christmas pantomime we have been once again left in a precarious position fuelled by the hope that ‘might we’ drop down to tier 2 on December 16th. For many this will be too late. What do we do? Wait till 24 hours before opening night and hope for the best? We have been left fearing the worst but planning for the best! Action needs to be taken very quickly!
How many people are going to pick up a product in a store such as a Christmas Card or a Gift that hasn’t been sanitised this December? Who knows how many people have touched that product before you! These are some of the toughest measures we are in, so WHY can non-essential shops open and theatres can’t?? It is FANTASTIC that these non-essential shops can open as it is where I go for my Christmas shopping and it is great for the people who work in them. But what about the people who work in the theatre? When you go to a theatre you are entering a tightly controlled environment. Social distancing is strict and easily enforced. Audiences can be given staggered time slots to arrive and leave. Simply put it is MUCH safer than shopping! Not forgetting the fact that not one case of Covid-19 has ever been traced back to a theatre.