Updates for Areas moving into Tier 2 or 3!

16 October 2020

SOLT and UK Theatre have undertaken to try and provide us with some more guidance on areas that move into Tiers 2 and 3 of the new government system. First of all, the position is complicated and fluid and government stresses that venues will need to take their own advice, not least because at least part of any action you need to take will depend on the terms on which you sold tickets to customers.


Regarding the new social contact measures in Tier 2 local alert areas, the guidance sets out that you must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them. This includes private homes, and any other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants. In other words, there must be no mixed households within a group booking. Central guidance on these measures is here.

DCMS have advised that we should look at the Obligations of Undertakings Regulations, with regulation 1A(1A) referencing relevant premises in High / Tier 2 areas. As of yesterday, “relevant premises” now includes cinemas, concert venues and theatres. You’ll see that this places restrictions not only on the acceptance of bookings, but also on admittance to premises.

For indoor locations, the operator or occupier must take all reasonable measures to ensure (among other things) that no persons are admitted to the premises in a group of two or more unless one of the exceptions applies. An obligation of this sort has been in place since 28 September when the rule of 6 measures came into force. Failure to take all reasonable measures is a criminal offence, punishable on summary conviction by a fine – and fixed penalty notices may also be issued where an authorised person reasonably believes that a person has committed an offence.

Overall, both operators and customers must take steps to ensure that their group demonstrably complies with the law. The duty on customers will help venue operators comply with the law, and vice versa.

Venues need to look at what changes they make to booking systems / arrangements from midnight tonight IF in an area moving to Tier 2 – for example, this could include adding a tick box to ask customers to positively say that they are booking just for their household or support bubble. Some theatres / operators had already included that question in booking systems so may not need to make any changes in this respect.

In terms of bookings made before midnight tonight, the position is less clear – and importantly there will be a public / audience perspective on this. As noted above, there is a legal requirement re admittance to the building only in a household / support bubble, and you will need to look at how to handle this. You will almost certainly get customers asking to move / change seats – each venue will need to ascertain how proactive to be on this depending on the terms under which you sold tickets.


The minimum requirements under Tier 3 for an area do not include venue closure UNLESS that is agreed as part of the measures between the local authorities and central government. Therefore each area under Tier 3 will need separate scrutiny. If venues remain open, then all the same actions as noted above will apply.

We appreciate this is rather complicated and coming in for many venues in a very short timeframe. We will seek to help more where we can, and point venues to best practice within the sector.