South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is urging the Scottish Government to review the two-metre social distancing guidance for small cinemas and theatres.

A number of small venues have contacted the local MSP, asking why the rule for pubs, bars and restaurants is one metre, while cinemas and theatres still have to enforce two metres.

While two metres might allow large theatres and cinemas to operate effectively, smaller venues will suffer from the tiny numbers they are allowed to cater for and unless the guidance is reviewed urgently, many will not be able to continue to operate.

Colin Smyth said: “Our region boasts some amazing small theatres and cinemas, which are the lifeblood of their rural communities. You just need to look at the popularity of the Lonsdale Cinema in Annan or the Theatre Royal in Dumfries to see how important such places are to their local areas.

“However, a number of owners and operators of venues in the region have been in touch with me to say that they are seriously concerned about their future if the current guidance is not amended.

“Social distancing of two metres in big city theatres and cinemas may work, but in small venues in rural areas, it simply becomes financially unviable to open.

“I am calling on the Scottish Government to urgently review the rules around the two-metre rule in small theatres and cinemas. It seems unfair that pubs and restaurants can operate at one metre and these venues are still being told to enforce two. We are told that the Government follows the science, but what science says social distancing should happen in a theatre not a restaurant?

“Unless the Scottish Government works fast, we will inevitably see some venues simply not opening until next year, if all and that means yet more job losses. Covid-19 started out solely as a public health crisis but as time has progressed, it is now also a serious economic crisis too with the arts and entertainment sector at the centre.”

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