The Government's guidelines on easing the coronavirus lockdown in Britain are evolving, with cinemas such as Cineworld reopening from July 10, and the revival of live performances in the works. On Wednesday 17 July, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden said the Government was applying the model used to bring sport back to the performing arts in the UK. "I know they face enormous challenges, particularly given the impact of social distancing on live venues," he said. The Government is "looking hard" at how to solve these issues and working "extensively and intensively" with stakeholders across the country, he said. "An important part of this is to get performances back up and again." The Government will convene culture and health experts over the next week to develop a "roadmap" that could allow live performances to take place. Most arts venues are currently in "Step Three" of the official lockdown plan, which designates them "higher-risk businesses" on account of the threat of coronavirus transmission within enclosed spaces. A few events are already taking place behind closed doors. The BBC have been broadcasting classical concerts without an audience at Wigmore Hall since the beginning of June. The Proms will follow suit, beginning on July 17 and ending with the Last Night on September 12. Commercial art galleries were permitted to re-open on June 15, as they are classed as "non-essential retail"; larger galleries and public institutions, however, remain shut. As the regulations currently stand, social distancing is planned according to the "two-metre rule". Controversy about this rule, however, continues. As in the hospitality industry, such measures would dramatically reduce venues' takings, and therefore their financial viability. Whereas a number of major sporting events such as the Premier League are restarting behind closed doors, playing solely to an online audience, very few arts institutions or events can survive without live spectators and the revenue they bring. Theatre Theatre insiders told The Telegraph that the autumn was the industry's general target for re-opening. In America, Broadway will remain closed until September 6 at the earliest. If the closures last beyond autumn, even large theatre operators will struggle to survive. But Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of Les Miserables and owner of eight West End venues, has suggested that the difficulties involved in preparing a production mean that many theatres are already facing closure until 2021. Christmas pantomimes are unlikely to happen this year. Mackintosh has also warned that the idea of social distancing in the auditorium "doesn't add up" financially. Under the new guidelines, it is unclear how theatres would be permitted to reopen at any point without accepting a drastic reduction in audience numbers. Some major theatres have been streaming videos of their past productions during the pandemic. To continue doing this with new work, however, would be a financial strain that few venues could bear. Read more: When will lockdown end? Cinema Cineworld is the first cinema to reopen post pandemic, and will reopen all of its theatres over the course of July, with its UK and US screens pulling back the curtains on July 10.
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