Well it was good to hear yesterday that on one hand we can reopen without any social distancing restrictions on numbers from Monday 9th August, it has been a long time coming, but it was disappointing to hear that the Scottish Government have decided it should be with face coverings at all times and the First Minister decided to put a dampener on this by saying “if you are going into a crowded place you should maintain social distancing” then the worst blow was; “but you should avoid crowed places as much as possible.” Now, either there is social distancing or there is not, and what is the point of reopening crowded places if the powers that be continuously warn people against going to these.
Another point during yesterday’s announcement referred to the Scottish Government currently working on a paper in terms of ventilation for schools and places of mass entertainment but this is unlikely to be available for a few months to come, what do they suggest? Reopen on the basis that we might be closed again if our ventilation does not meet their long awaited criteria and specification? What is frustrating about this is that they have blamed lack of ventilation for the past 16 months and this has been one reasons for keeping us all closed, so surely this kind of advice should have been made available by now, especially for schools. We could all have used the time we have been closed to ensure the ventilation would pass the criteria set out by the Scottish Government.
Personally, we are all for following the rules but there are so many points that have not been addressed and the majority of these require to be answered before we can make any decisions on the timescale to reopen. Too many things have been left unanswered.
Yesterday’s announcement was a case of giving with one hand and tightening the grip with the other.
Can we rehearse a cast? Without face coverings, can we sing during a performance?
I heard an interview this morning where Jason Leitch responding to a question about choirs saying that they still need to wear face coverings at all times, so where do we stand with a variety show? Who knows! it is all very confusing where you would think common sense should prevail.
I am not blaming anyone as things are moving fast and not every problem for every business can be addressed at a short government briefing but it is too opened ended at the moment to make a sudden financial decision on reopening soon.
The months ahead are worrying for the theatre industry as a lot of us get ready for productions, with schools and universities going back, all other areas reopening without restrictions, people returning from holiday abroad, large scale events like football and concerts and not forgetting the number of foreign visitors and delegates coming from across the world for COP26, surely a super spreader event waiting to happen. Our worry is that by the time we have shows ready we will be in another lockdown, and we will not get the chance to reopen despite spending a considerable amount of money in preparation. This was apparent during yesterday’s announcement where in the months to come the repeated threat of local lockdowns and travel bans continue to hang over us all.
Currently it is all a big gamble.
While we are waiting on this clarity it is disappointing that we are still waiting on the decision on the current funding which the Scottish Government received in March from the UK Government which was supposed to keep us solvent and retain jobs from April to September this year, this should have been announced last Friday but all we received from Creative Scotland was an email saying it wouldn’t be announced until this week. If we are lucky to receive this funding it will be 83% through the period it covers by the time we receive the funds, surely not how these “Emergency” funds are supposed to work.
We apologise if this sounds like a moan and my glass is always three quarters full, but we need precise decisions and clear guidance to allow us to move forward without the huge financial risk if we get things wrong. We really need to move forward as a country with optimism which has to come from the First Minister.
We will keep you posted in the days, weeks and months to come and will reopen when the time is right, and the theatre is safe to do so and most of all when we think you the audience are ready to return.
If you have got to the end, I thank you for taking the time to read this and look forward to seeing you in the months to come and thank you all for your support during the past eighteen months.