London, Essex and Hertfordshire Tier 3 move labelled a ‘disaster’ for theatres

London’s theatres will face “disaster” according to the director of the Theatres Trust, after London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire were placed into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions.

Jon Morgan, director of the Theatres Trust, said the Health Secretary’s announcement has “compounded” a difficult year for the sector.

The move means entertainment venues including theatres, concert halls, art galleries, cinemas and museums have to close from Wednesday.

Coronavirus
(John Walton/PA)

Mr Morgan said: “It is a disaster for London’s theatres that the capital and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will move into Tier 3.

“Theatres have worked incredibly hard to create safe environments for audiences and through no fault of their own will now face enormous financial losses.

“They have done so at great risk as it is currently impossible to secure production insurance.”

He added that the tiers system means “more uncertainty and risk for months to come” and the Government should introduce an insurance scheme to support the theatre industry.

“2020 has been a catastrophic year for theatre and today’s announcement has compounded that,” Mr Morgan added.

Julian Bird, chief executive of Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, also said the announcement is bad news for the industry.

He said: “The past few days have seen venues beginning to reopen with high levels of Covid security, welcoming back enthusiastic, socially distanced audiences.

West End Stock
(Ian West/PA)

“Theatres across London will now be forced to postpone or cancel planned performances, causing catastrophic financial difficulties for venues, producers and thousands of industry workers – especially the freelancers who make up 70% of the theatre workforce.

“We urge Government to recognise the huge strain this has placed on the sector and look at rapid compensation to protect theatres and their staff over Christmas in all areas of the country under Tier 3 restrictions”.

Current Tier 2 restrictions in the regions allow for socially-distanced performances to take place, while galleries and museums could also welcome visitors.

However entertainment venues now find themselves having to shut up shop once again after the lockdown in England came to end on December 2.

Planned performances across the region will now have to be scrapped.

Among the shows which will be affected is the London Palladium’s Pantoland production, which opened to the public on Saturday and stars Julian Clary and Elaine Paige.

The Government is currently distributing its £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to the arts sector.

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