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Liz Carr for The Normal Heart – National Theatre

Actress and disability rights campaigner Liz Carr has urged theatre fans to continue to wear face coverings.

After winning an Olivier award for her performance in The Normal Heart at the weekend the Silent Witness star urged venues to hold separate shows so people most at risk of Covid can attend.

Liz Carr - Image credit: Featureflash Photo Agency /
Liz Carr – Image credit: Featureflash Photo Agency /

Carr, who has been wheelchair bound since she was a child, said she was concerned that theatres were becoming inaccessible to people who have underlying health conditions as the number of people continuing to wear masks falls, despite a new surge in Covid infections.

Speaking to BBC News, she said: “Theatre should remain accessible even to those of us who have health conditions.

“If I’d had a five-minute speech, I would’ve talked about how I haven’t been to the theatre in over two years. This is a frightening night for me.

“Now, you could say, ‘Yeah but you did a play, Liz, in front of 1,200 people every night’.

“Yes, but I was on stage with everybody who was testing, everybody in the cast tested every day, so I felt safer than being a random member of the public in an audience around people I didn’t know.

“I’m not sure about [the issue of] everybody wearing face masks. Personally, I think yes they should in indoor environments because Covid-19 is airborne.

“But I think theatres could think about having safer performances. I think they should have face mask performances that are more socially distanced. In the same way you might have a British Sign Language performance, I think you should have Covid-safer performances.”

Some arts and entertainment venues offer accessible showings – such as subtitled cinema screenings for deaf people or autism friendly events – but it is not thought that anywhere is forcing or encouraging audiences to adopt a more cautious approach to Covid than is now required by law.

“Some of my friends who weren’t ready to come and see the show, they came to see the dress rehearsal, because they didn’t feel safe enough to come,” Carr told the BBC.

“So I think performances with less capacity and mandatory face masks, every show should be doing that to make sure theatre remains accessible even to those of us who have health conditions.”

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