NEW Covid rules were set out at the Downing Street Covid-19 press conference on Wednesday (December 8) and will come into place next week.

The new rules for England are as follows:

Subject to approval by MPs, from Wednesday December 15, people in England will need to use the Covid pass to gain entry to:

- Nightclubs

- Indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people

- Unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people

- Any venue with more than 10,000 people

Read more: Darlington Hippodrome welcomes Cinderella pantomime this Christmas

People who are not fully vaccinated will be able to show proof of a recent negative lateral flow test instead.

Announcing the measures, Boris Johnson said businesses would have a week to prepare.

How the rules will be enforced has not yet been clarified.

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Some North East venues that do not meet the criteria are choosing to implement the need for Covid passports.

For other venues, masks and social distancing are being encouraged and hand sanitiser stations are making a return, but no Covid passports are required.

Here's how some North East venues have responded.

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Darlington Hippodrome released this statement on its Facebook page:

"Following the government announcement on Wednesday 8 December, Darlington Hippodrome has updated it’s Covid safety measures as follows:

"From December 10 customers are required to wear a face covering (over 11 years of age) during their visit to the Hippodrome unless exempt or whilst eating or drinking.

"There will be no requirement for patrons to demonstrate their covid status in the form of a Covid Pass or negative Lateral Flow test to gain entry to the venue.

"Hand sanitiser is available throughout the venue, we continue to ventilate the building and maintain our strict daily cleaning schedule. Hippodrome staff will continue to wear face coverings at all times."

The Northern Echo: Darlington Hippodrome released a statement on its Facebook page on Thursday December 9Darlington Hippodrome released a statement on its Facebook page on Thursday December 9

A spokesperson from Darlington Borough Council said: “We do not anticipate a huge impact on the theatre as it is an indoor seated venue and Covid passes or proof of lateral flow tests will not be required. Our team at Darlington Hippodrome is looking forward to welcoming patrons to the theatre to enjoy the family pantomime Cinderella. Updated Covid safety measures are now in place and customers will be required to wear a face covering (over 11 years of age) during their visit unless exempt or whilst eating or drinking."

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Annabel Turpin, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Arc - Stockton Arts Centre said: "The most important thing for us is to keep customers and staff safe. We have maintained mask-wearing as a requirement at ARC since we re-opened, so welcome the Government’s introduction of mandatory mask-wearing for venues, as this makes it easier for us to reinforce.

"Likewise, we understand why Covid passports are necessary for larger events. Most of our upcoming shows are seated with capacities lower than the threshold for passports, but we will be requiring customers coming to our Christmas Wildcats of Kilkenny gigs to show passports on entry, as we are expecting audiences of 500+ each night and it is a part-standing event. Again, this makes it safer for everyone so we are happy to implement this.

"One thing that we have noticed is that many people think that Covid passports are only available to people who have been double-vaccinated.

"They are also available for people who have had a negative PCR or lateral flow test within the last 48 hours, providing they have registered the result on the website. This means that we are not limiting entry to people who have been vaccinated, as a negative test result will also allow entry."

The Northern Echo: Arc - Stockton Arts CentreArc - Stockton Arts Centre

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Helen Fussell from Northern Stage said: "We’ve continued to go above and beyond the guidelines throughout the pandemic to keep our audiences, artists and staff safe. 

"Safety measures include wearing face masks, paperless ticketing, contactless payments in the café bar, increased cleaning, hand sanitiser stations and offering Northern Stage at Home – digital streaming for audiences who would prefer to watch at home. All of our staff take regular lateral flow tests and we encourage audiences to do the same. 

"As a seated venue with a capacity of less than 500, customers won’t need to show vaccine passports, but from tomorrow face masks become mandatory so we’re in the process of letting our customers know what to expect when they visit and what we’re doing to keep everyone safe. We'll continue to keep our COVID-19 Secure measures under review and will update our procedures in line with any new guidance or government requirements."

The Northern Echo: Northern Stage - The cast and team of The Invisible Man: Picture: NORTHERN STAGE FACEBOOKNorthern Stage - The cast and team of The Invisible Man: Picture: NORTHERN STAGE FACEBOOK

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Lena Moss, Sales and Marketing Executive at Tyne Theatre and Opera House said: "The Plan B Covid rules won’t affect the customer experience too heavily for those visiting the Tyne Theatre & Opera House during Panto season and beyond. In line with current guidance, nobody will be required to show a Covid pass, vaccination status, or proof of negative test as a condition of entry to our venue. However, all customers aged 11+ will be legally required to wear a mask while in the Theatre, except when eating/drinking in their seats and those legally exempt. 

"The safety and well-being of our audiences and staff continues to be our top priority and we encourage anyone with specific questions or concerns to get in touch with us directly."

A spokesperson for ATG Tickets, which works with The Stockton Globe and The Sunderland Empire, said: "We have been asking our audiences to show a Covid pass at all ATG venues since we re-opened anyway so the only change from this week’s announcement is that we now require face masks rather than request them.

"Following the Government’s announcement on Wednesday 8 December, and as part of Ambassador Theatre Group’s commitment to keep everyone safe at our theatres, we will continue to ask all adult audience members to prove their Covid-19 status with either their Covid Pass (in the NHS app or printed) or proof of a negative PCR/lateral flow test. Customers and staff will also be required, unless exempt, to wear a face covering in our venue."

Alison Clark, Durham County Council’s head of culture, sport and tourism, said: “The safety of our customers and staff is our key priority. People will not require a Covid passport to visit our theatres as they are seated venues. However, everyone who visits our venues, including the Empire Theatre, must wear a face covering unless they are exempt, which could be for medical reasons or if they are under the age of 11.

“In addition to face coverings, we have hand sanitisers stationed around the building which visitors can use and people are also encouraged to take regular lateral flow tests, even if they do not have symptoms. This is particularly the case if you are mixing with people you wouldn’t normally socialise with.

“We would like to reassure people that the Empire Theatre is very much open for business and a warm welcome and memorable experiences await everyone who visits.”

Darlington Arena, Utilita Arena, Theatre Royal Newcastle, Middlesbrough Town Hall and Princess Alexandra Auditorium were contacted for comment.


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