“Incompetent” UK Government Criticized After London’s West End Is Closed Again

Yesterday’s news that the UK government is placing London into its strictest tier 3 coronavirus lockdown has been met by an outpouring of grief from the beleaguered live entertainment sector.

Venues such as cinemas and theaters were able to re-open in the capital on December 2 when the country exited a four-week nationwide lockdown, and many have put a large amount of effort and investment into getting operational again ahead of the lucrative holiday period.

In the immediate aftermath to yesterday’s announcement, the UK Cinema Association said the move would be “devastating” for its members, particularly as Wonder Woman 1984 will soon be available to program (windowing issues asides).

Today, the cast and crew of Pantoland At The Palladium, the annual festive stage show held at the famed London theater, have joined the chorus of dissent expressing the negative impact this will have on the long term health of live venues.

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“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,” wrote Michael Harrison, producer and director of Pantoland, in a statement on Twitter.

The show only began on December 12 and had been due to run until January 3. It now looks unlikely that they will be able to re-open again in time. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended an early performance this weekend.

There is no set duration on the new tier restrictions, but the government have promised regular reviews. However, it is not expected that London’s tier will change again before the new year. A planned five-day Christmas lockdown break, where households will be able to mix so people can visit their families for the holidays, will not change the forced closure of entertainment venues.

“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,” Harrison continued. “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.”

Cast member Beverley Knight, making her debut in the show this year, chimed in on Twitter:

Julian Clary hosts the variety show, which also features Elaine Paige, Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot and Ashley Banjo and dance group Diversity.

Around 30 London theaters had managed to re-open following the four-week lockdown. Other notable figures including producer Cameron Mackintosh weighed in on the gov’s latest decision, calling it a “Christmas fiasco”.

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