All theatres in London will close following evening performance on Tuesday 15 December, due to the sudden rise of covid-19 cases and move into Tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday 16 December 2021.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the news today which includes other affected areas in the southeast – Essex and Hertfordshire. The news was later confirmed by Rupa Huq, the MP for Ealing Central and Acton in west London.
Theatre performances had been allowed to resume with strict social distancing and risk mitigation in place from 5 December, with several Producers making the decision to do so with encouragement from the Government.
West End shows which will be forced to close include Potted Panto, Les Miserables -The Staged Concert, Pantoland at the Palladium, A Christmas Carol, Everybody’s Talking About Jame, The Great Gatsby Immersive Experience, Six The Musical, The Comeback, The Play That Goes Wrong and Mischief Movie Night.
Theatre Owners and Producers have now been left furious at the Governments sudden action, having spent considerable sums of money installing safety measures at venues and going to the effort and expense to stage shows – which had intended to just break even.
Comments from West End Producers
Sonia Friedman, Producer of The Comeback and many award winning West End shows said “
London going into Tier Three is yet another blow for British theatre – one it simply cannot afford after a brutal year, and one that both could and should have been avoided.
All the effort and energy, not to even mention the expense, of re-opening shows safely has once again been undercut by a decision that will devastate our industry and its freelance workforce – many of whom have still not received any government support and now face a further loss of employment. All this despite not a single case of infection being linked to a theatre anywhere in the country.
Theatres and producers, who have collectively lost over £1 billion in revenue since March, now face millions of pounds of additional losses and continued uncertainty for the coming months, destroying confidence in the sector that we have worked so hard to rebuild. Commercial producers – the sector’s biggest employers and largest economic contributors – have received just 0.8% of the £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund.“
She added “This feels like a final straw: proof that this government does not understand theatre and the existential crisis it is facing. Its short-sightedness is starting to look like serial mismanagement.“
Cameron Mackintosh said “The sudden volt face by the government in deciding to immediately put London into Tier 3 and shut down the West End is devastating for both the theatre and the economy. Even worse it smacks of panic and makes all our considerable and costly efforts to ensure the safety of both performers and audiences alike, widely praised by the health authorities, seem worthless – breaking any sense of trust between us as an industry and the government departments we’ve been trying to build a rapport with. “
Michael Harrison, Producer and Director of Pantoland at The Palladium said “We are devastated by today’s news that London will move to Tier 3, forcing the closure of Pantoland at The Palladium.”
“We are deeply concerned about the economic impact of today’s decision for businesses in the West End and believe that we have done everything possible to ensure a Covid-secure environment within The London Palladium for our audiences, following all advice from Government. Whilst the safety and health of our visitors, staff and performers is of extreme importance, the Government’s yo-yoing approach on advice is frankly appalling. It is not possible for any business to function in an environment where our leaders seem to have simply no idea how our country will look from one week to the next. The advice is bordering on incompetent.
Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook, Producers of The Great Gatsby said, “This is a hammer blow to an industry which has been fighting valiantly to bring culture and community to people’s lives this Christmas.
“The Government has created a situation where millions of pounds have been spent on re-launching productions and shut them down just as revenue is about to be generated, leaving even more organisations in extreme financial difficulty and putting jobs for permanent staff and freelancers alike at even greater risk. “
What to do if you have booked tickets
All affected tickets holders will be contacted by their point of purchase to reschedule performance dates or refund tickets.