Concerts set to resume on 17 May, says PM’s roadmap out of UK lockdown

22 February 2021, 17:46 | Updated: 22 February 2021, 18:13

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Live music and theatre will return in May, but only “if strict conditions are met”.

Concert halls and theatres will “reopen their doors” from 17 May, provided that cases and hospital admissions continue to fall, the Prime Minister has announced.

In plans set out by Boris Johnson to ease the UK’s third COVID-19 national lockdown, it was heard that indoor performances will reopen in stage three of the new roadmap, “with social distancing”.

Cinemas, hotels and sporting events will also reopen, 30-person gatherings will be allowed outdoors, and two households will be able to mix indoors.

No earlier than 21 June, legal limits on social contact could be removed.

The PM said this would be a “cautious but irreversible route of lockdown”.

Read more: London’s £288m concert hall axed as COVID-19 devastates arts sector >

Concerts to return on 17 May in UK lockdown roadmap
Concerts to return on 17 May in UK lockdown roadmap. Picture: Getty

As with previous roadmaps out of lockdown, the social distancing limits placed on live performance will likely allow only small productions to return.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s managing director, James Williams, welcomes the announcement but says “more detailed information is required if performing arts organisations are to be able to plan for the future with any certainty”.

Williams said opening concert venues for reduced audiences is “not economically viable without further government support”, adding that the focus “should be on when we are likely to see venues return to fuller capacities”.

From 17 May, it was also heard that up to 10,000 spectators will be able to attend outdoor seated venues “like football stadiums”.

The government did not say whether the same rules will be allowed for large-scale outdoor musical or theatre performances.

Up to 30 people will also be able to attend weddings, receptions, funerals and wakes from that date. The government added it hopes that from 21 June, restrictions on weddings and funerals will be abolished.

At each stage of lockdown easing, the PM said the vaccine program must go to plan, there must be sufficient evidence that vaccines are reducing the number of people dying with the virus, infection rates must not risk a surge in hospital admissions, and new variations do not change the risk of easing lockdown.

Boris Johnson warned there was “no credible route to a zero-Covid Britain nor indeed a zero-Covid world”.