16 Nov 2020

COVID-19/Coronavirus – Audience Guide To Staying Safe At The Theatre

See It Safely is a new industry wide scheme to introduce COVID secure protocols for theatres

As you scroll through the Official Theatre website, look out for the See It Safely badge on a production as this indicates a COVID secure show. 

As theatres across London’s West End begin reopening their doors for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, a new industry wide scheme has been launched to keep audiences safe at every step of the way.

See It Safely is a scheme launched by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre to give audiences confidence that their theatre experience will be fully COVID secure and compliant with all of the latest guidance from the UK government. Official Theatre has created this coronavirus theatre guide to help you understand the new safety protocols now in place.

Every element from booking tickets using socially-distanced seating maps and participating in the NHS Test & Trace service, through to pre-ordering interval drinks and mandatory face covering policies have been introduced to make audiences feel as comfortable as possible.

An overview of the safety protocols:

  • Contactless ticketing
  • Same household/bubble groups
  • 1m+ social distancing measures
  • Staggered arrival times
  • Multiple entry and exit points to the venue
  • Pre-ordered food and drink
  • One way systems around the theatre
  • On-arrival temperature checks
  • Hand sanitising stations
  • Regular deep cleaning of auditorium/toilets/common contact areas
  • Mandatory face coverings at all times inside the theatre
  • NHS Test & Trace participation
  • Additional signage throughout the venue
  • Contactless payment only

Take a look at our coronavirus theatre FAQ guide below for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I travel to the theatre?

Getting to the Theatre icon

Public transport such as London Underground and bus networks are open as usual. You must wear a face covering on public transport, unless exempt. Government advice is to consider walking or cycling some or all of your route, if possible.

If you’re driving to the theatre, car parks across the city remain open. Q-Park have partnered with Official London Theatre to offer 50% off your first four hours of parking at participating car parks and theatres. You just need to get your ticket validated at the theatre before you leave. For a full list of participating car parks and venues, visit the Q-Park website.

Can I book tickets for me and my friends?

Under current guidelines, group bookings can only be made up of individuals from the same household or from a single support bubble, up to a maximum of 6 people. If your friends are from a separate household, you should book each group individually and you’ll be separated by 1m+ social distancing regulations in the auditorium.

Most West End theatres have been reconfigured to allow for 1m+ social distancing, which is necessary for the venue to operate. Where the seating cannot be reconfigured, some seats will be marked as unavailable to adhere to the guidelines.

What happens when I arrive at the theatre?

Prior to your performance, you will be sent an e-ticket that you will need to show to staff either on your phone or printed out. It is currently not possible to book tickets in person as box offices in many theatres remain closed.

Upon arrival, you will have your temperature checked before being allowed entry. If your temperature reads higher than 38.7C, you may be refused entry and your tickets will be refunded. There will be hand sanitiser available at every entrance to the theatre for audience members to use.

Staff will also carry out security checks on any belongings that you bring. Theatres are urging audience members to bring as few belongings with them as possible as many have not reopened their cloakrooms and this will assist with the bag check process upon entry.

You will be asked to put on your face covering before entering the theatre.

Do I have to wear a face covering at all times?

A woman wearing a face mask

Yes. Once inside the venue you will need to keep your face covering on at all times, unless eating/drinking once seated.

Children under the age of 11 and anyone legally exempt from wearing a face covering as per the Gov.uk website do not have to wear a mask in the venue.

Are theatre bars still open?

Most theatres will still be offering an interval refreshment service, however this will be different to normal.

Some theatres, including Nimax and LW Theatres venues, have a pre-order service that means you can buy drinks and snacks before you arrive and they will be delivered to your seat at the interval.

Other theatres, such as Theatre Royal Haymarket, are keeping their bars open using socially distanced queues.

All purchases made once inside the venue must be done via contactless payment.

How is social distancing being maintained?

Theatres will be operating one-way systems around their venues. You can also expect a socially-distanced queue for the toilets, bar areas and any merchandise stands.

Some theatres are using staggered entry to avoid crowded entrances to the theatre. Check your ticket and confirmation emails for your allocated entry time, which could be up to one hour before the performance is due to start.

After the performance, staff members will begin clearing the theatre row-by-row to avoid crowds congregating at the exits. More exit doors may be in use depending on where you’re sitting so ensure you follow staff advice on how to exit the theatre.

What extra measures are being taken to clean theatres?

Each theatre has significantly enhanced its cleaning protocols. Venues are cleaned and sanitised thoroughly after each performance. All contact surfaces and toilet facilities are also being cleaned more regularly.

Hand sanitising stations will be installed at every entrance to the theatre and throughout the building.

What happens if I need to exchange my ticket, or cannot attend my booked performance?

Theatres are being extra-flexible with rebooking customers and changing performance dates due to the pandemic. Please get in touch with your point of purchase 24 hours ahead of your scheduled performance if you would like to amend your booking. Some theatres may be able to amend bookings even closer to the performance time, so it’s worth checking.

Do not attend your performance if you have tested positive for COVID-19; have experienced symptoms of the virus in the last 14 days; have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or is showing symptoms; or if you’ve been instructed to self isolate.

What happens if I feel unwell during/after the performance?

If you start experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should follow Government guidelines by self-isolating immediately and contacting NHS Test & Trace on 119.

Theatres will keep a record of audience members for up to three weeks after the date of your performance to assist NHS Test & Trace efforts.

If you have any further questions regarding the new See It Safely protocols, you can get in touch with the Official Theatre team using the contact form at this link.
Nathan Pearce

Nathan Pearce

Nathan is passionate about the full spectrum of theatre that London has to offer, from classic musicals to experimental plays, and everything in between. He is Content Associate at officialtheatre.com.


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