Grand Theatre boss Ruth Eastwood says Blackpool venues expect further disappointment ahead as Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirms a four-week delay to June 21 'Freedom Day'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has this evening confirmed a push back on the final easing of coronavirus restrictions by four weeks with stricken resort venues forced to continue operating at a reduced capacity.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 6:54 pm
Updated Monday, 14th June 2021, 6:56 pm
Chief executive of the Grand Theatre Ruth Eastwood.

Leisure bosses in the resort have said whilst the announcement had been widely anticipated, there is a great deal of 'frustration and disappointment' in the way the Government has delivered its guidance for the hospitality sector.

Questions have been asked as to how the retail industry was given the green light to completely reopen on April 12 whilst social contact in theatre spaces is considered to present a greater risk.

Chief executive of Blackpool s Grand Theatre labelled the guidance 'bonkers,' she added: "At this point now what can you say, we are where we are.

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Grand Theatre, Blackpool

"We've come to expect being disappointed. It's extremely frustrating, not just for us but other partners in the town.

"How is it we can have people piling into shops with none of the stringent tests and without the level of investment venues have made in terms of signage, temperature testing, entrance and exit management?

"It is bonkers."

The Prime Minister stressed the delay in the delivery of step four in the road map was 'not a backwards step.'

He said: "I am confident we will get there. We had to learn to be cautious. We will use these crucial weeks to save thousands of lives.

"There is a difference in that June 21 was an objective date and not a before date.

"Looking at the scale of the vaccination roll-out we see July 19 as a terminus date."

He said he was sorry for the disappointment that 'going a bit slower' was likely to cause many people and businesses, adding he 'bitterly regretted' the fact cautious decisions would have such a 'colossal effect' on the theatre industry.

Hailing the 'great glory' of theatre in the country he said: "It has broken everybody's hearts that the industry has been so hard hit. We will do whatever we can to be helpful to those in theatre and indeed even in the next four weeks."

Ruth said The Grand Theatre was ready to reopen but it would be done so tentatively, given there were still assurances needed in particular in relation to insurance protections for productions, similar to those afforded to sporting events.

She said: "Regarding the shows it was never going to be viable for us to run on a capacity audience of 350 people.

"The costs for the producers was too high and I can't buy in shows on that. So we tentatively aimed for September to mitigate that and it's a somewhat different programme to the norm but a programme at least.

"We are ready to open and remain so and we look forward to.

"Hopefully there will be some good news for the larger venues like the Winter Gardens where an audience of 1,000 people will allow for some shows to go ahead but it remains a question for the production teams whether they move forward and it will inevitably effect the shows they are able to put on moving forward."