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National Guidance: Living with COVID-19

The government has set out its plan for the next phase of the COVID-19 response. This details how we live with the virus as we would any other respiratory illness.

To find out more about the plan, see GOV.UK

Back to Re-opening safely: business case studies

The Babbacombe Theatre case study

Safely welcoming back performers and patrons

The Babbacombe Theatre is an entertainment venue and theatre based on Babbacombe Downs, Torquay. Refurbished in 2006, the venue has been part of the Bay’s tourism industry since the 1930s and is known for staging events throughout the year, including family variety shows and comedy tours.

COVID-19 has impacted the arts and entertainment industry exceptionally since 2020, with many premises and venues challenged with the prospect of extended closure. The Babbacombe Theatre is no exception, and since March 2020 the dedicated team has faced a constant stream of fluctuating restrictions.

Despite these challenges, general manager Sharon Waring has worked hard with managing director Colin Matthews, departmental managers, and colleagues to interpret government guidance and put procedures in place to enable the theatre to reopen safely.

Prior to reopening, Sharon and the team carried out COVID-19 risk assessments to ensure all risks relating to staff, show casts and patrons were identified and addressed.  All staff have received thorough COVID-19 training on safety procedures and seating capacity was halved to ensure a safe distancing during performances.

Staff and performers are temperature checked on arrival and regularly take LFD tests before entering the premises.  COVID-19 bubbles were created between the performers, costumes are safely bagged and secured between changes, and performers arrive at the theatre ‘show ready’ to minimise the time spent in communal changing areas. Some routines have even been re-choreographed to ensure a safe distance is achieved on stage.

For patrons, the theatre has ensured their experience is as safe as possible. On arrival, patrons must scan the Test and Trace QR code, sanitise hands and keep face covering on unless eating or drinking. Hand sanitiser is accessible throughout and the theatre is thoroughly cleaned before, during and after every performance. Clear signage is on display both inside and outside premises reminding everyone to maintain a social distance.

 “The guidance for venues like ours wasn’t always clear cut and it took time to digest and understand what we needed to do. However, through careful planning, commitment and remaining vigilant we have been able to interpret the COVID-19 advice and reopen safely.”

Working with COVID-19 compliance officers at Torbay Council, the theatre was able to ensure procedures in place would make staff, performers and patrons confident to return.

“The whole team and cast want to ensure patrons can return safely and enjoy the performances we have worked so hard to create. We have worked closely with the council to make sure our theatre is as safe as possible for every single person entering and leaving the venue and we are looking forward to a successful, albeit slightly different, summer season.”

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