Theaters and cinemas in the U.K. are rejoicing as the British government confirmed it is going ahead with plans to drop all social distancing measures from July 19, nicknamed “Freedom Day.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said today almost all pandemic-induced legal restrictions will be removed although he recommended that people continue to wear masks indoors.
The government also indicated yet another U-turn on vaccine passports, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying venues would be “urged” to implement vaccine status checks as a condition of entry.
“As a matter of social responsibility we’re urging nightclubs and other venues with large crowds to make use of the NHS Covid pass, which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity as a means of entry,” Johnson said during a press conference.
With a week to go until “Freedom Day,” however, it’s questionable how quickly events organizers will be able to put in place a system to check attendees’ vaccine records.
At the very least the relaxation of the rules spells hope for the U.K.’s entertainment venues, which have been devastated by social distancing measures brought about as a result of the pandemic.
“Vue International welcomes confirmation today that social distancing restrictions will end on July 19th,” a spokesman said. “We have seen a steady improvement in attendance at our cinemas as customers have rediscovered their love of big screen entertainment. This weekend ‘Black Widow’ recorded our biggest new opening performance since the start of the pandemic and comes hot on the heels of sell-out showings of ‘Fast And Furious 9.’ As a slew of major new releases continues over the summer and autumn, these sensible new guidelines from the UK government will help ensure that all those who want to enjoy going out to great movies in a safe and relaxed environment will be able to do so.”
Jon Morgan, the director of the Theaters Trust, told Whats On Stage: “Today’s confirmation that Step 4 of the reopening roadmap will go ahead on 19 July is welcome news for theatres in England, who will no longer face capacity caps and social distancing requirements. This will enable theatres to welcome back full audiences, producing shows that are financially viable and to provide more work for the sector’s precious freelance workforce.”