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West End theatres close until further notice amid coronavirus outbreak

les miserables west end - 1

London's West End theatres along with many others across the country have closed until further notice.

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) has said venues will close with immediate effect from tonight (Monday, March 16).

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There is currently no re-opening date set with the SOLT saying that venues will remain closed until further notice "following government recommendations.".

They said in a statement:

The safety of our audience and workforce is paramount to us as we navigate this challenging time. We, therefore, regret to announce that as of this evening all SOLT and UK Theatre member venues will close this evening (including tonight's performances) in light of the most recent official government advice. They will remain closed until further notice and will re-open as soon as possible, following government recommendations.

If you have bought tickets to a show that has been cancelled, then you are entitled to a refund and your ticket provider will be in touch. Please bear with us during this time.

The magic of theatre lies in its live performances and it is not something that can be experienced in the same way remotely. Its ability to lift people and entertain people even in times of difficulty is unparalleled and so we are extremely grateful to all of our audiences, who have continued to support us for as long as they can. We can't wait to welcome our audiences back into the UK's theatres as soon as possible.

As well as impacting West End theatres, the decision also applies to UK Theatres including many off-West End venues and houses in towns and cities across the country.

The SOLT went on to invite people to "come together to support each other" as it told audience members that "we rely on you now more than ever".

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They said:

We would like to commend the dedicated hard work from everyone in theatres across London and the UK over the last few weeks to continue to entertain and delight people for as long as they safely could. There are over 290,000 individuals working in the theatre industry across the UK, and the closure of theatres and public venues will have a devastating impact.

At this time, we must come together to support each other. Theatre as an industry relies on its audiences entirely to exist. We will rely on you now more than ever.

Many theatres that have been forced to cancel performances are charitable enterprises and have reached out to their audiences and asked for their support by donating their tickets. While ticketholders are all entitled to a refund for cancelled performances, the financial toll that refunding these tickets will have on small, charitably funded theatres is vast. We urge anyone who can afford to donate the cost of their ticket to show their support for our industry by doing so.

If you're looking for ways to show your support to the theatre industry and all its hardworking professionals, please consider purchasing Theatre Tokens, which you can use once our theatres are back up and running. These can be used at over 260 venues across the country and have no expiration date.

Theatre fans and patrons are the lifeblood of our creative industry and we simply could not open our doors without you. We're extremely grateful for all the messages of support we have received so far, and we look forward to welcoming you back to come and support our theatres when they re-open.

We will remain in contact over the coming weeks and keep everyone up-to-date as the situation changes. In order to stay informed, safe and healthy, current NHS advice can be found here.

During this period, we as an industry want to play our part in supporting everyone in our communities and will also continue to look for ways to entertain and uplift people across the country, so please follow our social channels and stay in touch.

Meanwhile, over in New York, Broadway is currently dark.

All productions were cancelled on March 12 for at least four weeks until April 13.

Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, said in a statement: "Once our stages are lit again, we will welcome fans back with open arms so that they can continue to experience the joy, heart, and goodwill that our shows so passionately express every night."

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