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Actors’ union calls for change to self-isolation rules in the performing arts

Equity’s general secretary has called for a ‘sector-specific approach’.

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Theatres have been badly hit by the pandemic (Andrew Gray/PA)

Theatres have been badly hit by the pandemic (Andrew Gray/PA)

Theatres have been badly hit by the pandemic (Andrew Gray/PA)

An actors’ union has called for self-isolation rules for the entertainment industry to be changed, warning current regulations are having a “devastating and costly impact”.

Equity said close contacts of those who test positive for coronavirus should not have to isolate if they have had one dose of vaccine or more from Monday.

Those who have come into contact with a positive case should undergo lateral flow testing as they continue to work, the union said in a statement on Friday.

Equity said the Government is “failing to react in a responsible way to this changed public health situation by not recognising the devastating and costly impact their current guidelines are having on the performing arts and entertainment industries”.

Current rules say close contacts have to isolate for a 10-day period.

Those rules are scheduled to lift on August 16 in England, when people who are fully vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate when they come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Equity’s general secretary Paul W Fleming said: “Equity wants to keep our members safe and continue to support the fight against Covid-19, but current restrictions are disproportionate and not tailored to the needs of the industry.

“From sport to hospitality, the Government is taking a sector-specific approach and we’re just asking them to do the same for live performance and broadcast.

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A lateral flow test (Zoe Linkson/PA)

A lateral flow test (Zoe Linkson/PA)

A lateral flow test (Zoe Linkson/PA)

“As planned in England from August, a careful testing regime could and should replace the current blanket isolation approach in place across the UK.

“If it doesn’t, the vanguard of the UK’s social and economic recovery from Covid could face irreparable damage.”

Equity said self-isolation rules have led to the cancellation of performances of shows including Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s production of Romeo And Juliet, Jeeves And Wooster at Cirencester’s Barn Theatre and the West End revival of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

A Government spokeswoman said: “Live events will be able to reopen fully from July 19 and we have provided unprecedented support for the sector through our £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund – the largest one-off investment in UK culture to date.

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“The Government is managing risks at the border to protect public health, and continues to review travel quarantine exemptions regularly.”

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