It isn’t hard to spot the irony. In a week when no UK resident was allowed to travel abroad and, if the government has its way, anyone trying to do so in future will face a £5,000 fine, the Prime Minister spent a lot of time talking about passports.

More importantly both of the issues that he and his government seek to address are of great relevance to the cultural sector.

Vaccine Passports

As soon as Boris Johnson announced that he would never countenance vaccine passports in the United Kingdom, it was inevitable that one of his trademark U-turns was just around the corner.

In what was probably intended to sound like a low-key observation earlier this week, it became clear that, as he does, the PM was sounding out the public (and media) to discover whether they liked the idea. Indeed, in his inimitable style, not only did our top politician broach the idea but he also hinted that, rather than making a decision at governmental level (Heaven forfend), control on a day-to-day basis would be left to individuals.

While the context to which he had been specifically referring was access to pubs, it almost goes without saying that this would be equally applicable to theatres.

At first sight, the prospect might seem enticing. If the government is serious about allowing theatres to reopen with full houses from the middle of June, many prospective theatregoers require a great deal of reassurance.

At the moment, the general consensus is that anyone who has had two doses of vaccine will enjoy significantly greater protection than those that have not. In addition, they will almost certainly be less likely to transmit the virus, although the degree to which that might apply is currently uncertain.

If the pub plan is followed, then the alternative to providing a vaccine passport would be a negative test result. At the moment, it isn’t clear as to whether this would involve the deeply flawed lateral flow tests with their false positives and false negatives or the more reliable PCR tests. Although the latter are also far from 100% accurate and take several days to process.

Instantly, we are likely to end up in a 'them and us' situation where those who are privileged to have received their vaccines will enjoy a massive advantage. This would mean that any younger theatregoers will be obliged to spend a significant amount of money obtaining a test document to prove (that is a misnomer) that they are safe.

Without knowing how long test results will be valid, the idea that a young critic, not yet eligible for a vaccine and used to visiting theatres three or four times a week, would be obliged to spend what could be around £150 for each visit or each week is not so much ludicrous as impossible.

At the other end of the equation, theatre staff would be forced to set up their equivalent to passport control desks with queues snaking miles down major city streets such as Shaftesbury Avenue.

There has already been a considerable amount of negative reaction to the initial tacit proposition, but it will be interesting to see how this develops over coming weeks.

European Union

The second kind of passport in which Mr Johnson has very belatedly taken interest is that for entertainers and others seeking to ply their trade in the European Union.

It goes without saying that had he or his predecessor thought about this issue at any point in the 4½ years between the vote to leave Europe and its implementation, there would almost certainly not be a problem today. Then again, financiers would not be heading offshore at a rate of knots, Northern Ireland in an unholy mess and fishermen angrily feeling double-crossed.

The musicians have been particularly vocal in complaining about the way in which their careers are currently being wrecked by this lack of forethought. However, it also extends to theatre companies.

What is now tacitly being proposed is a raft of agreements and clearance documentation that would effectively allow both the import and export of materials to support shows but also facilitate cross-border travel by performers and support staff who wished to present their wares to European audiences.

When challenged by one of his own MPs, Julian Knight MP, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, in front of the Parliamentary Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister asserted that challenges around touring and cultural exports "must get ironed out" as part of "a two-way street" with the EU, although he didn’t actually mention U-turns.

In doing so, Mr Johnson was merely echoing the views of the EU Services Sub-Committee of the House of Lords which a day or two before had commented that “we agree with the Incorporated Society of Musicians that the UK should enter 'bilateral discussions with individual EU Member States that do not currently offer cultural exemptions for work permits.'”

At the moment, it may well be that this needs to be negotiated on a bilateral basis with all 27 EU countries. Even allowing for Liz Truss’s recent experience in rubberstamping existing bilateral agreements with countries further afield, this could well take years.

In that Mr Johnson and his henchman Lord Frost seem happy to rub Euro politicians up the wrong way at every opportunity, one has to fear that thespians with European ambitions may need to be very, very patient on this one.