West End theaters are set to shut down again Wednesday as London enters a new phase of lockdown.
The news comes as productions in London, including the musicals “Six” and “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” restarted performances in early December. This is the second time performances have planned to resumed and then been halted, as some London productions started back up this fall, but then faced a month-long national lockdown.
Unlike the previous order, this shutdown does not have a firm end date. The shutdown was triggered as London entered Tier 3 of England’s COVID-19 restrictions due to rising cases in the area.
Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, warned that the undetermined timeline for theater closures would have serious consequences for the industry.
“The past few days have seen venues beginning to reopen with high levels of Covid security, welcoming back enthusiastic, socially distanced audiences,” Bird said in a statement. “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.”
Bird called for “rapid compensation” from the U.K. government to support theaters and their staff during the upcoming shutdown.
Theaters in London initially closed on March 16, following the closure of Broadway theaters on March 12.