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Senior arts figures say new tier restrictions will ‘shake already fragile sector’

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Senior arts sector figures today said tighter tier restrictions have “shaken” an “already fragile sector” while warning it will not be viable for many theatres to reopen.

It was announced yesterday that venues in England located in areas hit by the top tier of restrictions will have to remain closed indefinitely – with audience capacity limits set for theatres and concert halls in zones where performances are permitted. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will decide on Thursday what areas will be in what tiers, depending on the latest data on rates of infection.

The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre’s chief executive Julian Bird has criticised the move.

<img src="https://static.standard.co.uk/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2020/07/23/17/006.jpg?width=2500" alt="<p>Beverley Knight  during a socially distanced performance at the Palladium

“Today’s announcement of new restrictions for performing arts venues in all tiers has shaken an already fragile sector,” he said in a statement.

“Closure of venues in Tier 3 areas will mean cancellation of pantos and other shows, risking organisations’ long-term survival and leaving theatre freelancers adrift with no compensation.

“The capacity constraints in Tiers 1 and 2 will lead to financial problems for venues and disappointment for audiences.

“It is unclear why these have been instituted in a sector with no known spread of the virus.”

He added: “We remain committed to working with the Government to secure the survival of our world-leading theatre sector”.

Dave Hutchinson, chief executive of the Selladoor Worldwide theatre company, also criticised the move.

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He said on Twitter that Tier 3 restrictions cause “further uncertainty as we must pause, again, and wait”.

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