Just in: Covent Garden orders unprecedented security

Just in: Covent Garden orders unprecedented security


norman lebrecht

May 24, 2017


As you will soon be attending a performance or event at the Royal Opera House we would like to draw your attention to some changes to our security measures in light of the tragic events in Manchester and the raised UK security threat level.

You will notice an increased security presence at the Royal Opera House and we will take time to search all bags on entry. You can help us to make sure that this has as little impact on your visit as possible by doing the following:

Please plan your journey and arrive as early as possible.
Please avoid bringing any bags with you.
If a bag is absolutely necessary, no bag larger than a small handbag please.
If you do have large bags we kindly ask you to make alternative arrangements for their storage.
Please be patient with our staff as they check you into the building.
Your safety is paramount to us and your understanding greatly appreciated as we go through this difficult time.

We look forward to seeing you at the Royal Opera House for what will still be a wonderful experience.

Yours sincerely

Alex Beard CBE

Chief Executive

UPDATE: Editorial: No bags allowed at Covent Garden


  • Dave says:

    I don’t see how anyone can have a problem with those rules. It’s the price you pay for living in these times.

    • Olassus says:

      It’s the price you pay for … having allowed the wrong culture to settle amid your own, creating a diffuse and embedded threat.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Wrong. It is not the culture that is a threat, but the individual cranks getting crazy. Such generalizations play exactly into the hands of ISIS who want European countries to scapegoat muslem immigrants in general, to make them feel unwelcome and 2nd class citizens, so that they will resist Europeanization, and will be disenfranchized so that ISIS can more easily recrute local terrorists.

        The anxiety these tragedies create in European muslem communities will probably be more intense than in other people.

        Just think a bit harder about these things. Spreading these discriminatory sentiments will only fuel division and hatred.

        • Adrienne says:

          In that case, “muslem communities” must be the unluckiest communities in Europe, taking into account not just terrorism, but also other well publicised problems such as organised child grooming on a huge scale and the general lack of integration in places like Bradford, Oldham etc.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Beside the point, if a terrorist saunters in as audiences are departing after the performance.

    • Nik says:

      Exactly. This is just the worst kind of window dressing, causing maximum inconvenience for no discernible benefit.
      What will these bag searchers do if someone turns up with a bomb or a gun? Ask him not to come in? Wow, I feel safe already.

  • Zelda Macnamara says:

    I have had a similar e-mail from Symphony Hall in Birmingham. Totally unnecessary and wouldn’t prevent an attack of the kind in Manchester anyway. We are sliding into a militarised state and the government is just playing on people’s fears to cover up its own inadequacies and score political points in the run-up to the election.

    • Steven says:

      Exactly. The Manchester terrorist could blow up the bomb before going through security. When these measures fail, they’ll introduce metal detectors and/or bag scanning machines. Why not just allow staff to pull aside anyone they think is suspicious and leave the rest of us alone. There’s really little more that can be done without becoming a borderline police state where even the most uncontroversial leisure is securitised.

      • John Borstlap says:

        But what if the choice will be: either a lethal Afghanistanesque public space or a more secure police state? After all, this is already something of a war.

        • Steven says:

          That’s a false choice. We have none of Afghanistan’s past and still have a majority non-muslim population. And even most of the salafists here, vile and alien as their beliefs are, are not violent.

          Plus, if we become a police state, they’ll be no need for them to bomb us, because that radical Islamic constuency we’ve imported into our country will have already won.

  • Steve P says:

    Unprecedented. Like the attacks on a teen pop concert by an Islamic terrorist? Geesh- I don’t trust the govt either, but being inconvenienced to prevent an attack on another soft target doesn’t strike me as unreasonable. And not a bad precedent to set.

    • laurie says:

      I don’t understand the objections to this. The intrusion is minimal. And it’s been going on in New York city classical venues for years. Purses are inspected with wands and flashlights. I have never heard anyone complain. Of course there are always ways around even the highest level of security – the Manchester horror being the latest example – but security has a purpose. If you object to this new policy, you can aways just stay home and watch DVD’s.

      • Vienna calling says:

        Purses being inspected has being going on in London for years too but now purses aren’t allowed into the auditorium. Apparently, you also cannot check them into the cloak room. I never go to the opera straight from home and need to carry wallet, phone, glasses, ideally also an umbrella. As for your advise to stay at home and watch DVD’s… there seem to be more things you don’t understand than objections to these measures.

      • NYMike says:

        You didn’t include the bomb-sniffing dog @ Tully Hall in LC before chamber music concerts……

  • Robin Worth says:

    Does anything change over the years?

    The Anarchists bombed the Liceu (and murdered several in the audience)

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    We were searched at museums and theatres and some restaurants in London,when the IRA was doing its damndest don’t you remember? Of course it’s necessary.

  • Ex ROH fan says:

    I can’t go anywhere without a smaller backpack full of medicines including test kit needles, syringes, injection pens, emergency sweets etc. (plus water to take pills) which I have to keep with me at all times. It is not just a “minimal intrusion” to be without access to a bag. I don’t see how I can go there any more.

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      1. It’s not a complete ban on all bags, just larger bags, doubtless larger than the one you need.

      2. Even if it were a ban on all bags, I am sure that they would allow you to take in essential medical items.

  • Sarastro says:

    Mad world, a bloke I spotted in the stalls at ROH once brought in an M & S bag of sandwiches in the break during Zauberflote, told him you are supposed to shell out a tenner in the bar for smoked salmon!

  • bring a baby to ROH says:

    I heard baby voice during the evening performance of Il Travatore and spotted a tiny baby with two adults after, at ROH in summer 2016.