The government’s decision to move London to Tier 3 has been “devastating” to the theater and hospitality industry, according to some of its leaders.
The change, which goes into effect on Wednesday, means pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to close, with the exception of takeaways, deliveries and click-and-collect services, and theaters will have to close the live audience.
Theater producer Cameron Mackintosh, who returned a production of Les Miserables to Shaftesbury Avenue after the lockdown, said he no longer trusts the government.
He said: “The government’s sudden Volt face in the decision to immediately add London to Tier 3 and close the West End is devastating to both the theater and the economy.
“Worse, it smells like panic and makes all of our sizable and costly efforts to ensure the safety of performers and audiences, widely acclaimed by health officials, worthless – breaking trust between us as an industry and the government departments we’ve tried to build a relationship. ”
Producer Sonia Friedman, whose hit shows include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, said the move “could and should have been avoided”.
She said: “This recent Tier 3 closure underscores – clearly – the urgent need for a government-sponsored insurance system, such as that already provided for film and television, to receive meaningful compensation to mitigate the impending loss of productions made to the Must be forced to graduate and to provide targeted support to freelance workers who cannot take advantage of the vacation program.
“It feels like a final straw: proof that this government does not understand the theater and the existential crisis it is facing. Its shortsightedness is starting to look like serial mismanagement.”
Mackintosh also criticized the lack of support other than “offering fairly expensive credit,” saying that “the constant changes in the rules and advice we have received are impossible for any company to respond to.”
Cameron Mackintosh has criticized the government’s decision to close theaters
/. Dave Benett )
He said: “Yet the government seems to be playing with our rights and freedoms with impunity. We have almost 100 mostly self-employed artists and employees working on Les Misérables – The Staged Concert at the Sondheim Theater. Just in time for Christmas, this government drove them into unemployment in one fell swoop – bah humbug to the prime minister and the men in white coats. “
Andrew Lloyd Webber said it was “arbitrary and unfair for people to jostle uncontrollably in overcrowded shops, but that orderly, socially distant theater is forbidden”.
Ian Wright, chairman of the Food and Drink Federation, which represents the vast UK food and beverage industry, told Standard: “The announcement that London will be ranked Tier 3 with so little notice is shocking and irresponsible.
“It will affect all companies and it will be especially bad for those who have to prepare for an upcoming no-deal Brexit. The decision will seriously affect companies’ ability to prepare for the end of the transition period. This will certainly exacerbate the food disruption in the capital. The government must come up with clear proposals to help the affected companies. ”
Julian Bird, executive director of the Society of London Theater, said the news was “devastating”.
He said: “In the past few days, the venues have reopened with a high level of Covid security and reopened an enthusiastic, socially distant audience.
“Theaters across London will now be forced to postpone or cancel scheduled performances, causing catastrophic financial hardship for venues, producers and thousands of industrial workers – especially the freelancers who make up 70% of the theater workforce.
“We urge the government to recognize the enormous burden on the sector and to consider swift compensation for protecting theaters and their staff over Christmas in all regions of the country under Tier 3 restrictions.”
Andreas Labridis of the high-end Greek restaurant OPSO in Marylebone said this was “devastating” for the hotel industry.
He added: “We could be approaching the perfect storm for hospitality – that includes the closure of our restaurants and the loss of the much-anticipated Christmas trade, the unknown impact of Brexit on future product prices and the supply chain, and finally the challenges of our once-die Freedom of movement for workers has ended, industry will compete against it. “
Steve Ryan of Dalston’s 40-foot Brewery said, “Tier 3 is basically back in lockdown right when we are most likely to see sales. December sales bring us through January and February.
“Once again the government is not warning us. Our industry has become the scapegoat for their incompetence.
“We had to change our business every month. To reopen this month, we’ve turned our taproom into a restaurant serving extensive meals. Now we’re back to the blocking rules. ”