Having read the government’s statement last week, done a little digging, consulted my colleagues and Equity (my professional trade association), I believe this is what it means for me – and, more importantly, for you.
Okay, comeback ‘tour’ may be a little overstating it – I won’t be investing in a tour bus – but after six months of not be able to perform any live shows, I’m so happy to be able to say I’ll be back on the road. The prime minister has set out key dates and details of what we can and can’t do, always assuming that the current restrictions continue to work and the amazing vaccine rollout proceeds as successfully as it has to date.
The earliest date on which entertainers will be allowed to perform live shows will be 29 March. The restrictions are that the Rule of 6 will apply and that performances must take place outdoors. This means you’ll be able to hire an entertainer to perform for an audience of five people (adults and children) in your garden.
This takes us back to the conditions in August last year, when I performed a number of shows for very small audiences in their sunny back gardens. And there’s the rub. The weather and temperature is far more suitable for outdoor parties in August than it is in March and April. I don’t expect a huge rush of bookings in the run-up to Easter – the British climate is too unpredictable to be sure they’ll be practical – but if you have the means and desire to hold a small outdoor party next month, Magic Peter is ready with a socially distanced show that will keep you safe and fully entertained.
From Monday 12 April up to 15 people from two households can meet outdoors, and that will mean something approaching a more normal get-together can be planned.
However, it will still need to be held outdoors, so will be weather-dependent, and I believe social distancing will still be required, but I have a special act that will keep the children safe but fully engaged and active throughout the show.
May 17 should see the return of indoor parties, but the Rule of 6 will still apply indoors, so they will have to be very small affairs. But the good news is that the limit on outdoor parties will be raised to 30, with no limit on the number of households attending, and now we’re talking about a party much more like we’re used to, with all your child’s friends able to attend, albeit with a limited number of parents being able to stay.
Whether or not social distancing will be required remains to be seen, but either way I’ll be ready to perform a fun-packed, Covid-safe magic party for you and your guests.
And then, on 21 June, all restrictions may be lifted and all parties will be back on.
I say ‘may’ be lifted because the dates outlined by Boris Johnson are the earliest dates these restrictions will be lifted. If the infection rate doesn’t come down as expected, if new variants arrive to slow down the return to the new normal, then these dates may be revised or the level of easing might change. So it’s a responsibility on all of us to follow the current guidelines of not making unnecessary journeys, restricting our contact with other people and, of course, heeding the call when it comes to getting vaccinated. If we do, then I’m optimistic that Magic Peter will be back, performing great birthday shows for happy kids and their parents this summer.
But How Many Shows?
Some of you may know that when the second lockdown came into effect, I took the decision to mothball Magic Peter’s business and seek alternative employment to pay the bills.
I was lucky enough to find a fantastic job with a fantastic employer, and I am thoroughly enjoying delivering groceries to Waitrose customers across Oxford. It’s restored my sanity, kept the money coming in, and I feel I’m doing something to help those unable to go out and shop for themselves – I’m certainly getting some lovely feedback on the doorstep, especially from older customers.
So will I be giving up my job on 21 June or 17 May or perhaps even sooner?
Well, no, I won’t.
I’m sure we all want to get back to normal as soon as we possibly can, but as I said above, I don’t see a huge rush of bookings for late March, April and early May. As we approach 21 June, then yes, I can see everyone wanting to throw off the shackles, let their hair down and party – but as we sit here today, that date is not guaranteed, and so it would be a foolish man or woman who resigned their job in the hope the government’s roadmap is followed to the letter.
And there is another reason I won’t be handing in my notice.
I said I wouldn’t.
After Christmas I had my appraisal and was asked how I saw my future with Waitrose. At that time we had no idea how well the vaccine rollout would go and the effect restrictions would have on the transmission rate. I told my employers that I expected to be with them next Christmas.
And I’m a man of my word: I do what I say.
Whether it be to you as a client when booking a Magic Peter party or to an employer who took me on when I needed a job during a worldwide pandemic, if I say I’ll do something, I’ll do it. It’s just the way I am.
But I’m fortunate I work shifts, meaning I have every other weekend off as well as some mornings, afternoons and evenings during the week, so I’ll be able to take on the majority of booking requests that come my way. Just not all of them.
So to be sure to get the performer you want (me or any other) on the date you want them, my advice is always to book the entertainer as soon as you can.
So until I see you, stay safe and very best wishes to you all.
I’ve updated the text to reflect that although up to 15 people can meet outdoors from 12 April, there remains a limit of two households, meaning that 17 May is likely to be the watershed for most people wanting to arrange parties with people beyond their immediate family.