As reported by The Stage UK, The West End is now stepping up defences in the fight against COVID-19.
Theatres are being encouraged to stop guests going backstage and limit cast members’ contact with audiences at stage doors in attempts to limit the spread of coronavirus.
In guidance sent to members of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, which make up the majority of major theatres across the country, individual venues are being advised to introduce special measures for performers and other staff.
The document, which is intended to be posted on company notice boards and front of house, states that performers are discouraged from engaging in physical contact at stage doors, where actors often interact with fans at the end of a show.
Any autographs should be signed with individuals’ own pen and theatres should implement a policy that means no guests are taken backstage.
Some venues have already spoken about their efforts to intensify hygiene measures for audiences and visitors to their buildings, including the installation of hand sanitiser dispensers in public areas and more rigorous cleaning regimes.
Theatres are stepping up hygiene and cleaning routines in attempts to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as it emerges that actors are facing cancelled jobs and productions are being postponed as a result of the impact of the outbreak.
The vast majority of theatre performances remain unaffected, with the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, the industry’s leading membership bodies, stressing the importance of “business as usual” and that there is “currently no clear rationale” for cancelling events.
An online poll by The Stage suggested uncertainty among audiences, with just over half of 2,500 respondents – 54% – saying they would be put off going to the theatre, and 46% claiming the virus would not discourage them.
While all major theatres remain open as usual, many have started responding to the outbreak, and some have begun postponing productions, blaming “economic uncertainty” resulting from Covid-19.
At present, there is no advice for members of the public to avoid large gatherings of people such as theatre performances.