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Laura Branigan

Oxford's culture venues urge audiences to continue wearing masks post 'Freedom Day'

Theatres, museums and event spaces in the city have put out a collective statement.

Members of Oxford's Cultural Partnership - which includes Pegasus Theatre and Oxford Playhouse - will be asking audiences to continue to wear masks after 19 July to 'help protect staff, volunteers and audiences.' 

The government announced that people will need to take personal responsibility for minimising the spread of COVID-19, from Monday.

Businesses are able to make their own decisions about whether they will require mask wearing on their premises.

Cultural venues in Oxford say wearing a face covering protects other people and 'is a key way to ensure their staff and volunteers stay healthy and don't need to isolate.'

It comes as some businesses share growing concerns about the number of staff forced into isolation, after getting 'pinged' on the NHS Covid app.

The Telegraph is reporting some people are being alerted without even coming into contact with a positive case.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said last night that the UK is in "better shape" because of vaccines, but that we're "not out of the woods yet".

In a collective statement, the Oxford Cultural Partnership said: "We encourage our visitors to continue wearing masks and to practice social distancing so that we can all feel safe and protected.

"Hand sanitisers will be available in our venues and we trust that our visitors will make considered decisions in the interest of themselves and everyone around then and make use of the NHS check in app."

"With a sizable number of staff, performers and volunteers, and indeed the public, not yet fully vaccinated we see this as an important step to protecting everyone involved in creating culture in Oxford, and kindly request that visitors remain considerate during this time."

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, said: "All of Oxford's cultural partners made this decision together, out of concern for their staff and audiences.

"The message from the government is clear that we all still need to be cautious, and masks are recommended in crowded spaces. Please enjoy Oxford's events, performances and exhibitions safely by wearing a mask to protect each other."

Also included in the partnership are:

  • Arts at the Old Fire Station
  • Ark T Centre
  • Film Oxford
  • Fusion Arts
  • Modern Art Oxford
  • Oxford Contemporary Music
  • Experience Oxfordshire
  • Oxford International Links (OIL)
  • Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra

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