Planning Your Visit and Covid-19 Information

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On this page we’ve set out some notes and tips about your visit to The Swallow Theatre.  In particular you may have questions and concerns about returning to the theatre in relation to coronavirus. We are doing everything we can to make your visit safe. 

We have been granted the use of Society Of London Theatre & UK Theatre’s ‘See It Safely’ mark. The mark certifies that we are complying with the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure the safety of our performers and audiences.

Below are frequently asked questions about the measures we have been putting in place ready for your visit, and what you will need to know beforehand.

If there’s anything we’ve missed please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01988 850368 or info@swallowtheatre.co.uk

On the day of the show we are usually busy with the performers and getting ready so we often cannot answer the phone or pick up messages, so it’s best to contact as early as you can.

Our aim is to make The Swallow Theatre a magical, unique, COVID-safe destination for everyone to enjoy.

Some of our autumn performances are planned to take place in our semi-open marquees which are in the garden.  There are two audience marquees which face towards a separate stage marquee.

Since July, we have slightly altered the layout of the three marquees so that the sight lines are improved and the number of views slightly restricted by poles is reduced.

If the weather is good, two sides of each audience marquee will be open.  The structures will then meet the legal definition of an outdoor space. This means that face coverings need not be worn when you are in your seat. If the weather is a bit dodgy, then we shall add extra wall panels to the audience marquees.  They will then be classified as indoor spaces, and hence face coverings must be worn at all times (unless you are exempt).

The audience tents are called ‘Ravenstone’ and ‘Castlewigg’ after the two hamlets nearest to the theatre.

Some of the shows are not suitable for marquees, and these will take place inside the theatre auditorium.

The webpage for each show clearly sets out whether the show is planned to be in the marquees or in the auditorium.

OK, so this is Dumfries and Galloway.  Southwest Scotland.  It rains.  The wind can be gusty.  The marquees are strong, sturdy constructions of flame-proof material with extra storm straps so they will be safe in all the conditions we typically experience here.  However, the noise of the rain on the marquee roofs, or the noise of the wind, could mean that it becomes difficult to hear the performers.  In this case, we shall move the performance into the auditorium.
 
When you buy your ticket, you have the option of paying a little extra for a ticket that guarantees you a place inside the auditorium should the show move inside.  Alternatively you can buy a ticket which is for the marquees only.  If you buy a marquees-only ticket and the show moves into the auditorium, you will receive a refund of your ticket money.
 
The decision about whether the show moves into the auditorium or remains in the marquees is the responsibility of, and at the sole discretion of, the venue operators, in consultation with the performers.

As of 9 August 2021 social distancing is not a legal requirement in Scotland.  However the First Minister’s statement of 3 August said “And even though the law will not stipulate physical distancing from Monday [9 August 2021], we will continue to advise the public that – especially indoors – keeping a safe distance from people in other households and avoiding crowded places will minimise risk.”
 
We have therefore decided to retain physical distancing of approximately 1m between groups, measured (using the Government guidelines but paraphrasing their language) nose-to-nose.
 
Another reason that we have also chosen to maintain social distancing is to keep ourselves and our performers as safe as possible. The venue operators and everyone who performs here are freelance/self-employed sole practitioners with no understudies or backup staff so we are aware that if anyone falls ill everything will stop, with knock-on effects possibly for other performers, other venues and other audiences.  We wish to do everything we can to try to avoid this.
 
In the marquees the seats will be set out with a gap between groups.  There will be wide aisles for you to reach your seat.
 
In the theatre auditorium there will be an empty seat between groups, and alternate rows will be left empty.  Where possible a seat against one side of the aisle will be left empty to make the aisle slightly wider than normal.
 
We ask you to maintain a safe social distance all around the site especially when you are queuing to take your seats or for toilets or refreshments.

The marquees will be amply ventilated as at all times the front of the marquee and one side wall panel will remain open.
 
The theatre is a converted byre.   Pre-COVID we used to close all the air vents and run the heating so it was quite cosy, but now we shall have all the air vents open and keep the theatre doors open as much as possible.
 
In both spaces it could get chilly so please wear warm clothing and consider bringing a rug. Also please be aware that in the marquees the seats against the open edges may not be fully protected from the rain.

Tickets are available to purchase online, and must be purchased in advance.
 
The booking system will show you a socially-distanced seating plan.  You will have an allocated seat.  If you buy a marquee ticket with the guaranteed auditorium option, we will allocate you a group of seats within the auditorium that correlates approximately with the position you have selected on the marquee seating plan.
 
Tickets are available in fixed groups. Groups of 1, 2, 3 or 4 tickets are seated together and each group is distanced from the other groups.  If you require a grouping that is not on the seating plan, please call us.  The groups set out on the plan do have an element of flexibility and we shall be happy to try to accommodate your group.
 
Previously theatres were required to separate people from different households or bubbles.  We are now allowed to seat groups of friends together who wish to be together, so if you would like to come and sit together in a larger group than is on the seating plan, please let us know and we can hopefully organise something for you (depending on the seats that have already been sold).
 
For the purposes of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system, at the time of booking we require you to provide the name and mobile phone number of all the people in your group.
 
If later you wish to change the people in your group, this is fine, but you must email us with the change of details.

So that you can book your ticket in confidence and as soon as possible, we are offering a no-quibble refund policy.  
 
If you or anyone in your group cannot attend, for any reason, and you email us at least 24 hours before the performance start time, we shall provide you with a refund of the price you paid, less £1.50 per seat to cover the box office and payment card fees we will have already incurred.  
 
If we as a venue have to cancel the performance ticketholders will be given an automatic full refund.
 
For those who wish to, there is an option to donate some or all of the ticket money to the theatre and the performers, but this is completely optional and not expected.
 
Please allow us 72 hours to process the refund, which will be made back to the card you used to make the payment.

The theatre is tucked away down some narrow lanes – you can download the directions here.  Please allow plenty of time to find us.  Some satnavs take you down a farm track – this is not necessary and really not a good idea unless you have a 4×4.  You can get to the theatre on proper roads!
 
There is no public transport to the theatre, and the nearest bus stop is about 3 miles away.
 
You are welcome to arrive by bike, however please note that we do not have bike-racks or changing facilities.
 
Please allow plenty of time for your journey.  Latecomers may not be admitted if the show has started.
 
Please consider the latest Scottish Government rules on travel and transport:-
https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-travel-and-transport/#travellingaroundscotland
 
You can check the level we are in here: https://www.gov.scot/check-local-covid-level/  
 
Our postcode is DG8 8DR.

Audience car parking is in the field opposite the theatre.  If the weather has been wet for several days before the show the field can get quite muddy. In some cases areas will be closed off – the rest of the field should be fine especially the higher parts.  Over the last few years we have put down a large area of grass mesh which means that tyres will not get stuck in mud.  Please drive slowly and carefully in the field.
 
Please be aware of other vehicles and stay physically distanced when getting in and out of vehicles.
 
It is then a short walk along the lane to the theatre site.  The lane can also get muddy so we recommend stout and waterproof footwear.  Please be aware of traffic.
 
In the dark you may wish to bring a torch as there are no street lights near the theatre – but there are excellent stars on a clear night!

We have an area of hardstanding disabled parking for two vehicles on the main theatre site, and you can also drop off people at the main gate.  Please email or phone us in advance to let us know you need to park in the disabled spaces so that we can co-ordinate requirements.

The check in position will be at the gate to the main site.  We shall ask you to state the names of all the people in your group.  We shall check you off our list of attendees and write down your arrival time.
 
The site will be open from 45 minutes before the performance start time.
 
We ask you to be here at least 10 minutes before the performance time.  
 
If the show is in the marquees you will be able to take your seat as soon as you arrive.  If the show is in the auditorium you will be able to wait in the marquees and the garden, and we shall call people into the auditorium approximately 10 minutes before the start of the performance.

We provide audience chairs within the marquees and in the auditorium.  
 
If you require a wheelchair space or you have mobility problems or other requirements please let us know in advance and we shall do our best to help you.

In Scotland it is mandatory to wear face coverings in public indoor settings.
 
Therefore you will need to wear a face covering (unless you are exempt) unless the performance is in the marquees and the weather is good enough for us to remove at least 50% of the wall coverings (which makes it an outdoor event).
 
If we need to close more of the walls of the marquees, and also in the theatre auditorium, you must wear a face covering (unless you are exempt).
 
We also ask you to wear a face covering when checking in at the site entrance, when in the toilets, at the refreshment collection point, and when in any queues.
 
If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, we would please ask that bring an exemption card, or that you tell us the reason that you are exempt.  Physical and digital exemption cards, and the list of exemptions permitted by the Scottish Government are available here: http://exempt.scot/

Please keep your belongings to a minimum and with you at all times. 
 
We do not have cloakroom facilities.
 
You may like to bring with you a cushion, a rug, insect repellent, sun cream, sun hat/sun visor, and a torch.  It could get very cold, so please bring suitable clothing.
 
Please note that chairs are provided for all performances, both indoors and outdoors.
 
Please do not bring picnics into the theatre site.  You are welcome to eat a picnic in the car park; please allow sufficient physical distancing from other groups.

Dogs are not allowed on the theatre site, except for assistance dogs – please notify us in advance.

We offer a limited selection of refreshments including wine and beer, luxury soft drinks, Fairtrade filter coffee, tea and hot chocolate, biscuits and Cream o’ Galloway ice cream.
 
The menu is available on our website, and ticketholders can pre-order refreshments.  If requested, your drink can be served in a compostable disposable cup.
 
Refreshments will be available from a designated collection point.  As far as possible there will be a one-way system and queuing system in operation.  For pre-orders, we can deliver your order to your seat on request.
 
Please pay by contactless card.  Receipts will not be issued: if you require a receipt let the server know and one will be emailed to you in the 72 hours following the show.
 
Only drinks purchased from us are to be consumed on the theatre site – by buying a drink from us you are helping support the theatre.  You are welcome to bring your own water bottle.

We shall not be checking temperatures unless this becomes a mandatory requirement.
 
If you or any of your group develop a temperature is 37.8C or higher, or show any other symptoms of coronavirus, please do not attend.

We have two audience toilets, both unisex. One is a large cubicle with wide access and grip handles.

Wash basins are located within each cubicle and paper towels are provided.
Hand sanitiser is available on entry and exit.

As far as possible there will be a one-way system to and from the toilets and a marked queueing area.

We have undertaken a full COVID-19 risk assessment, in addition to our normal operating risk assessments.

We have signed up to the See It Safely scheme organised by Society Of London Theatre & UK Theatre, and also supported by the Federation of Scottish Theatre. This means we pledge to follow the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines as well as additional requirements set by the scheme. We have lodged our Covid risk assessment with the scheme and agreed to spot-checks.

To keep you safe, we will be cleaning the venue before every performance and regularly disinfecting.

We have created a one-way route around the site wherever possible in order to minimise your contact with others, and the theatre hosts will guide you.

Please use the hand sanitiser stations when you enter and exit the site, and outside the toilets and refreshment collection point.

Following the performance, please maintain social distancing as you leave the site and return to the car park.  

Please be aware of staying socially distant from our performers if you wish to talk with them after the show.

Performers will be following the UK / Scottish Government Guidance for the Performing Arts sector, and will be in bubbles to allow them to perform and be accommodated together.

We will be ensuring that you have maximum flexibility by allowing tickets to be refunded up to 24 hours prior to the performance – so if someone in your party feels ill, there’s no need to worry.

Please do not attend the venue if you

  • believe you may be infected with Covid-19;
  • have experienced symptoms in the last 14 days;
  • have been in close proximity to anyone who has experienced symptoms in the last 14 days;
  • have arrived in England in the last 14 days and are not covered by the exemption rules relating to self-isolation; or
  • have been instructed to self-isolate.

Any individual who considers themselves to be clinically extremely vulnerable or who is in the same household or support bubble as someone who considers themselves to be clinically extremely vulnerable is advised to follow the advice set out by the Government.

All venues with the See it Safely mark are working with the Government to ‘Test and Protect’. If you display COVID-19 symptoms, follow the instructions at NHSinform.scot.

You are welcome to enjoy the theatre garden.  Please note that after wet weather there is a large pond so young children and vulnerable people should be looked after.   We run the garden as much as possible on an organic and wildlife friendly basis.
 
Our address is ‘Moss Park’ and in Scots the word ‘moss’ means bog.  We are surrounded by cattle fields.  And we have a nature pond.  So we do tend to have a few midges flying around on warm still nights.  They are a bit annoying but they don’t bite much.  We recommend you put on some of your favourite anti-insect repellent before visiting.  
 
Overall the site is approximately 3 acres.  We have lots of plans for the space, which if we are honest, are beyond our current time availability, budget and skill level!  But they give us immense pleasure and we hope regular visitors will enjoy following our progress.  Current projects include:-

  • ‘The Long Border’ – straight ahead as you walk onto the performance lawn, behind the Castlewigg Tent, this used to be an area of rough grass and wildflowers.  We are slowly converting it to a herbaceous border.
  • ‘The White Garden’ – the tiny triangle on your right as you enter the performance lawn.  The plan is for an area of white flowers which will look magical at dusk.  OK not really working yet, but we’ll get there.
  • ‘The field’ – the triangle behind the card park now has four fruit trees and more will be planted in autumn.  We are mowing more of the field each year in preparation for planting. 

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