July 9, 2020 / 4:34 PM / a month ago

Outdoor theatre, gyms and pools in England to reopen

FILE PHOTO: Tourists watch actors perform at the house where William Shakespeare was born during celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright's death in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Britain, April 23, 2016. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Theatres in England will be able to hold outdoor performances from this weekend and beauticians can reopen next week in a further easing of the coronavirus lockdown, culture minister Oliver Dowden said on Thursday.

Indoor gyms and swimming pools in England will also be able to reopen from July 25.

The latest moves follow the reopening of non-essential shops on June 15 and last weekend’s reopening of pubs, restaurants, cafes and hairdressers.

Dowden told a news conference that from July 11 theatres, opera and dance groups can put on outdoor performances to socially distancing audiences.

He said that meant for example music lovers can attend opera at Glyndebourne in East Sussex, southern England, which plans to stage a summer season of open-air concerts and operas during July and August.

Dowden said that when gyms reopen, operators would have to use time-booking systems to limit numbers, restrict class sizes, space out equipment and step-up cleaning regimes.

He added: “At the beginning we all stayed at home to protect the (National Health Service) and save lives. Now the British public has a new part to play - it’s time to eat out to help out, to enjoy the arts to help out and to work out to help out.”

He said the government was working with public health experts to pilot some indoor theatrical and musical performances to work out how socially distanced audiences can attend.

Reporting by Andy Bruce and James Davey; editing by Stephen Addison

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