Equity responds to UK Government ending Covid restrictions in England

The UK Government has today (21 February) announced plans to lift Covid-19 restrictions in England from 24 February. Equity is concerned about the impact of this on the entertainment industry and its workers, especially our clinically vulnerable members, and have issued the statements below in response to the announcement. See a list of the changes announced today on pages 22-23 of the Government document Living with Covid-19.

Equity statement on lifting of restrictions: 

"Equity is extremely concerned with the Government’s plan to prematurely end the legal requirement for self-isolation, at a time when performances in theatres are still being cancelled due to sickness both front and backstage. Cancellation of performances damages box office recovery, audience confidence and, in turn, substantially affects the income of our members who have already suffered considerably during the pandemic. We are particularly concerned about the welfare of our clinically vulnerable members, for whom the virus still poses a very real threat to life and health.

The entertainment industry, both live and recorded, has put in place robust Covid-19 protocols to minimise risk to the health and safety of the workforce and continues to enforce mask wearing, testing regimes and other stringent measures. Despite the conflicting messaging from Government, Equity expects the industry to continue to enforce these measures, pay sick pay for extended periods when needed to support individual performers and actively dissuade anyone from attempting to work when sick. It is in no-one’s interests to race to dismantle protocols that have, however imperfectly, allowed the industry to rebuild and our members’ return to work."

Equity Deaf and Disabled Members Committee statement: 

“It is a great shame that the Government is encouraging the public to consider measures such as mask-wearing and self-isolation as restrictive, when they are in fact reasonable and practical steps that can be taken to stop the spread of illness among all. Instead, the Government’s decision today means clinically vulnerable people will be forced to take stricter measures to protect themselves and further miss out on job opportunities, socialising and fully engaging with society at large.

We call on venues and engagers in the performing arts and entertainment industry to continue policies such as self-isolation periods with sick pay for those with Covid, alongside regular testing and mask-wearing. These measures will not only do the life-saving job of helping to protect clinically vulnerable people and the general public, but also encourage audiences to feel confident about returning to live events after a period that has hit our industry hard.”