In the latest instalment, Gumpy Group Organiser shares his thoughts on a socially distant performance in London as well as the quarantine rules for Brits returning from Spain. 

St Martin's Theatre auditorium

Source: Tristram Kenton

The Mousetrap is the West End’s longest running show.

Socially distanced performances

The impact on theatre and live performances has been immense, as we all know, but tests and trials have been taking place to see how we might enjoy them again. Out as part of the leading pack is The Mousetrap. I suppose with the West End’s longest running show, its resilience comes as no surprise. Producers have revealed plans to reopen with socially distanced (I know, I hate that term too) performances from 23rd October. Plus a recent performance at the London Palladium experimented with 640 “guinea pigs” who watched a stand-out performance by soul diva, Beverley Knight.

It’s hard to know who found it stranger… the audience spaced out between a mass of chairs with black crosses on, or the performer looking out onto a sparse theatre. There were no smiles to confirm everyone was having a good time (they were as it happens), just masks and wide eyes.

I have seen pictures circling on social media that were contrasting a plane full of passengers, seated with masks, and an empty theatre. If you’re wearing masks and all looking in the same direction the obvious question is, why is one now permitted and the other is not?

Opening and welcoming groups

I’ve been heartened to read stories about how a number of attractions have announced they are ready to welcome groups again. It may be smaller groups depending on where, but I was worried we’d be forgotten completely.

Dunwood's post-lockdown coach holiday

Dunwood has been running small group trips.

Coach companies have been running trips to trial how they will be able to operate too. What seemed impossible seems possible, for now. But with worrying headlines across Europe, let’s hope I am as optimistic next month.

Sun, sangria, quarantine


The new quarantine rules for people arriving in the UK from Spain have ruined the summer holidays for many, and created a worrying marker. It was just six hours between the Government announcing its advice against travel to Spain and quarantine restrictions being imposed. It’s the first time I can remember them doing anything quickly. Too quick, even, for transport secretary, Grant Shapps. After urging people not to book a holiday abroad in April, saying he wouldn’t take the risk, Mr Shapps whisked his family off to Spain, landing only a few hours before his own department announced the decision to alter its advice to British tourists. Good to know they communicate. Then again, it is understood that the Department for Transport was in talks about excluding the Balearics and Canaries from the quarantine restrictions, just as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office moved to include them.

There is a loophole when it comes to quarantine however. Simon Calder of The Independent revealed that if you have another foreign trip due to depart before your 14 days of quarantine are up, you can go directly from your place of self-isolation to the airport, sea port or international railway station, and leave the country. Simon wrote that ‘the only way to reduce the length of quarantine is to go abroad again.’ It’s written in law although the Government’s online guidance is ‘misleading’ adds Simon… no surprise there. But I’m afraid you cannot just hop across the Channel for a few hours and then head back as free as a bird. Sorry to burst your bubble.