Andy Richardson: Collapse of the UK’s cultural sector begins as restrictions lift for other businesses
While England has been in lockdown, eased lockdown and returned to it, our Welsh neighbours are two steps behind.
They faced tougher quarantine issues and are only now able to reconnect. The green light has finally been given to pubs, restaurants, cafes and the mingling of groups of up to 30 people – a month after similar restrictions were eased in England. Parts of England are, of course, going back into lockdown. Let’s hope it doesn’t end as badly in Wales.
The collapse of the UK’s cultural sector has begun. If Oliver Dowden were looking for ways to poleaxe theatres, nightclubs and other entertainment venues, he’d may have come up a strategy almost identical to the one he’s unwittingly adopted.
The UK’s biggest theatre group has laid off more than 1,200 casual staff and other closures are imminent. In theatreland, nobody believes they’ll open this year, with most looking towards Easter as the earliest time for a resumption, or more likely summer 2021.
Dowden’s £1.57 billion rescue package hasn’t reached those who need it, with funds not released and theatres having no clear reopening date.
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The Government has, however, provided a £170,000 loan to the sex party company Killing Kittens. Under the terms of the loan, it could end up owning nearly 1.5 per cent of the company.
The question is: will MPs sit on the board or conduct site visits?
Business is ignoring the Government’s call for workers to return to their desks. Law firms, insurers, energy providers and tech firms are among those preferring staff to work from their kitchens.
Some companies, such as Google and NatWest Group, are allowing workers to stay at home until 2021 as there is a permanent shift in working culture.
The World Health Organisation recommends a period of isolation of 14 days for those with the virus. So it’s odd that the UK has gone it alone by recommending seven days.
That’s now changed to 10 days, largely in response to an increase in cases in Europe, though it’s still lower than most.
Still, at least Covid-19 has been good for UK ultra-runners. During lockdown, they ran out of excuses not to get out and run for, erm, 73 miles a day.
World records have toppled and one 36-year-old woman ran from Land’s End to John O’Groats in just 12 days, fuelled by macaroni cheese, cakes and cocktail sausages.
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