Ambassador Theatre Group will enforce a strict admissions policy when its large commercial theatres reopen from next month.
No one will be admitted to any of its 38 theatres in major cities without proof of full vaccination or a negative coronavirus test within 48 hours of their visit.
This will apply in our region to the Liverpool Empire, opening in early August, the Manchester Palace and Opera House, which open later in the month, and the Grand Opera House in York, which opens in mid-September.
As well as asking for proof of double-vaccination for adults (using the NHS phone app, or a paper certificate), or a negative lateral flow test within 48 hours of the visit, under 16s will be asked for “verbal confirmation” that they have no symptoms and have passed a virus test. Those who have recovered from Covid-19 must also show natural immunity (also possible with the NHS app).
Inside theatres, strict measures will also be in place concerning masks (except when eating), sanitising and one-way movement. Patrons will also need to check-in, preferably using the NHS Covid app.
Anyone denied entry will be able to get a credit voucher for a future performance. Full rules are available here.
The measures go beyond government guidelines and beyond the requirements of most other theatres. Salford’s Lowry - a comparable venue running major shows and musicals – requires the guidelines now familiar for people in enclosed spaces; the city’s HOME venue operates likewise, with no proof of vaccination, and one theatre, Oldham’s Coliseum, has taken Covid warnings off its newly-redesigned website and relegates procedures to one “Welcome back” section of the site (though is operating the same sanitising and mask requirements as most theatres).
The ATG response could be seen as a way for the huge commercial chain to operate as safely as it can in the absence of a government or commercial insurance scheme. While many theatres can ill-afford to suffer a closure due to a Covid case, ATG, as the producer of some of the largest and most expensive touring shows in the UK, could suffer major losses and the knock-on effect of tour stoppages if cases are reported in one of their theatres.