Lloyd Webber threatens to SUE Government if theatres reopening delayed
Andrew Lloyd Webber threatens to SUE the Government if theatres are not fully reopened from June 21
- Theatre impresario said delay to reopening would be ‘the final death blow’
- Theatres rely on being able to open at full capacity in order to be profitable
- Lloyd Webber said other events like the World Snooker Championships showed there was ‘no increased risk’ of transmission in a theatre
Andrew Lloyd Webber last night said he could take ministers to court if they do not allow theatres to operate at full capacity from June 21.
The impresario said it would be ‘the final death blow’ if the relaxation of restrictions does not go ahead as planned later this month.
Indoor entertainment venues were able to reopen on May 17 at half capacity, but many theatres have remained shut because it is not profitable to play to smaller audiences.
Lord Lloyd-Webber said if theatres cannot reopen ‘100 per cent’ after June 21, the issue becomes ‘what is the legality of the whole thing?’.
‘If the Government’s own science has told them that buildings are safe… I’m advised that at that point things could get quite difficult,’ he said.
‘This is the very last thing that anybody wants to do, but there would become a legal case at that point because it’s their science – not ours. I would passionately hope that we don’t have to, but I think we would have to consider it.’
Andrew Lloyd Webber last night said he could take ministers to court if they do not allow theatres to operate at full capacity from June 21. Pictured: Lloyd Webber (right) with Carrie Hope Fletcher, star of his new musical Cinderella
The impresario said it would be ‘the final death blow’ if the relaxation of restrictions does not go ahead as planned later this month. Pictured: People queue for The Show Must Go On Live at the Palace Theatre in London on Wednesday
Lord Lloyd-Webber, who hopes to open his new musical Cinderella starring Carrie Hope Fletcher at the Gillian Lynne theatre in the West End next month, said he would be happy to ask theatre-goers to wear face coverings.
He added: ‘We would conform with anything the Government asks us to do to get 100 per cent open – but we have to be 100 per cent.’
He also pointed to the success of the Government’s indoor events trials, such as at the Brit Awards at London’s O2 arena and the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible in Sheffield.
Lord Lloyd-Webber said the snooker had ‘shown there is no increased risk of transmission of Covid in a theatre’.
‘If scientists really are so worried about everything, then they should be saying there should be a total circuit breaker surely and lock everything down again for two weeks.’
But, he said, to keep the arts sector effectively closed suggests the Government does not care. Though he praised Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden for ‘fighting really hard for us’.
Indoor entertainment venues were able to reopen on May 17 at half capacity, but many theatres have remained shut because it is not profitable to play to smaller audiences. Pictured: People queue for The Show Must Go On Live at the Palace Theatre in London on Wednesday
Will freedom be put back two weeks?
By John Stevens and Sophie Borland
The end of lockdown could be delayed by two weeks or watered down under Government contingency plans if there is a rise in Covid hospital admissions, it emerged last night.
Whitehall sources confirmed officials were working on fall-back options in case ministers decide to postpone so-called ‘Freedom Day’ on June 21.
These include the date simply being pushed back by a fortnight, or the continuation of some social distancing measures – such as face masks or working from home.
Boris Johnson yesterday insisted it was still too early to know whether Britain’s extraordinary vaccine rollout had broken the link between infections and hospitalisations and deaths.
Business leaders, hospitality chiefs and many MPs have urged Mr Johnson not to delay, pointing out that many businesses are relying on the lifting of all restrictions to survive.
Zero covid deaths were announced in the UK on Tuesday for the first time since the pandemic began, while figures from the Office for National Statistics yesterday showed Covid deaths now account for just 1.1 per cent of all fatalities.
But some scientists and Government advisers are still concerned that the protection offered by the vaccines could be undermined by the Indian variant.
Boris Johnson yesterday insisted it was still too early to know whether Britain’s extraordinary vaccine rollout had broken the link between infections and hospitalisations and deaths. Pictured: Johnson holds a reception for school children in the garden of No 10 Downing Street on Wednesday
Yesterday, the Government’s daily update revealed 4,330 new infections – the highest recorded in one day for more than two months – along with 123 hospital admissions and 12 deaths.
Mr Johnson said there was ‘nothing in the data at the moment that means we can’t go ahead’ with June 21 but conceded it remained ‘ambiguous’ on whether the vaccines will protect against a potential surge caused by new variants.
He insisted ‘we’ve got to be so cautious’ as there was ‘no question’ of infection rates rising.
‘We always knew that was going to happen, don’t forget, we always said that the unlocking steps that we’ve taken would lead to increases in infection,’ he said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also struck a note of caution as he held a press conference at the Jenner Institute in Oxford.
Asked if the Government was considering keeping some restrictions such as mask wearing and work-from-home guidance after June 21, he replied: ‘There is nothing in the data to suggest we are definitively off track but it is too early to make the decision about June 21. We’ll make that decision based on more data in the next week to 10 days, ahead of June 14.’
Mr Hancock said it was important to monitor the number of people who had received two doses of the vaccine.
Johnson said there was ‘nothing in the data at the moment that means we can’t go ahead’ with a June 21 reopening but conceded it remained ‘ambiguous’ on whether the vaccines will protect against a potential surge caused by new variants [File photo]
‘We can see the number of cases has been rising in the last couple of weeks but we can also see that the vast majority of people who have ended up in hospital are not yet fully vaccinated,’ he said.
Business leaders and Tory MPs have warned the Government that many firms risk going bust if restrictions are not lifted as planned.
Professor Sir John Bell yesterday said the current coronavirus figures ‘don’t look too intimidating’. But the regius professor of medicine at Oxford University said the situation needs to ‘play out for a couple of weeks’ before the Government makes its final decision.
Meanwhile, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, described the latest milestones in the vaccine rollout as an ‘incredible achievement’, with three-quarters of adults in the UK having had a first dose and half in England having been given both jabs.
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said yesterday the data from the vaccination programme looked ‘very promising’ but warned that increasing cases could lead to the emergence of new variants.
‘There are a lot of members of the younger community that are unvaccinated at the moment and should infection rates rise, there is always the possibility that new variants could emerge,’ he added.
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