The Lowry has been accused of being ‘cowardly’ by reintroducing the mandatory wearing of masks.
While face coverings have been brought back in shops and on public transport, the government is currently not including other venues and hospitality in its list of where they should be worn.
But bosses at the Salford theatre have made the decision that masks will return in all areas from Wednesday, December 8.
Only younger children under 12 those who are exempt will not be required to wear them.
The move, which some of England’s top theatres like the Royal Opera House are also making, has not gone down well with some theatre-goers.
Responding the announcement on The Lowry’s Facebook page, John Brooks said: “Ridiculous and cowardly decision, dragging us back into the Covid nightmare, I thought the vaccine was our way back to normality?”
Paul Lavin said: “I assume you will refund tickets on patrons who wish not to comply given this is not the message from the government?”
And Malcolm Dorr added: “Wrong decision Lowry. I shall be asking for refunds if this policy stays in place for any of my bookings.”
But plenty of other patrons welcomed the move and praised The Lowry for making the move – with some saying they had already been wearing masks to watch shows anyway.
Among them was Rebecca Carter, who said: “Brilliant decision. Cannot believe so many didn’t wear mask when I visited the other week. I am far more likely to go back to the theatre. Thank you.”
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And Emma Garland, who added: “Great. People will have a better time knowing that there are some protective measures in place.
“Burying our heads in the sand about the Covid situation gets us nowhere at all.”
However, not everyone is convinced that theatre-goers will abide by the guidance, including Ian Collis, who said: “Every theatre and concert we’ve been too since July has said masks only but rarely saw any.
“Unless you throw people out people probably won’t wear them.”
A spokesperson for The Lowry, where its Christmas show The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe starts this week, said: “In light of the new Omicron variant and overall rise of positive Covid-19 cases across the country, we have decided to re-introduce the mandatory wearing of face masks – except for those who are exempt – within our building from 10am tomorrow morning. (Wednesday, 8 December).
“This includes during all theatre performances, visits to the gallery and movement around the foyer spaces except when seated in our café, bars or restaurant.
“This measure is being taken to protect the visiting cast and crew, our front of house staff and volunteers as well as our audiences and visitors.”
Since the outbreak of Covid, he said The Lowry’s re-opening and refunds policy has always allowed people to change or refund their booking for Covid-related reasons, so anyone no longer wanting their tickets in light of the decision can request their money back.