Limited reopening will only get the arts ‘so far’, warn theatre and museum bosses

The “beating heart of the West End” won’t return until shows can play at full capacity, according to the group representing the capital’s theatres.

Julian Bird, chief executive of The Society of London Theatre, said the reopening after months of lockdown was “great” but “only gets us so far”.

Shows opening tonight, including The Mousetrap, are playing to limited numbers, with theatregoers wearing masks throughout.

He said: “To bring the beating heart of the West End back, we can’t do that until we get back to full capacity.”

He said Solt’s members wanted to hear “social distancing is being removed”.

At the moment the Government hopes to do that no earlier than June 21 and Bird said: “That would allow those shows that are opening today to get to a point of breaking even and starting to recoup some of the losses.”

Natural History Museum director Doug Gurr said the “most important thing” is getting visitor numbers back.

His museum lost five millions visitors last year with 300,000 people coming through the doors in 2020 compared to 5.3 million the year before.

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