U.K. Government Urges Public to Avoid Theaters, Social Venues to Combat Coronavirus


U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is time for everyone in the country to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel around the U.K.

Johnson also said people should start working from home where they possibly can, in addition to avoiding theaters and other social venues, such as clubs and pubs.

Asked whether he will enforce the closure of theaters, Johnson replied that the government is giving “very strong advice” that such public venues should not be visited. However, he said he didn’t believe that the government would have to use powers to close venues, and instead, owners would likely make the right decisions themselves.

Johnson said it is important for Londoners to pay special attention to the advice as transmission is spreading faster in the capital.

From Tuesday, government will no longer be “supporting” mass gatherings using emergency workers.

The government has stopped short for now of recommending school closures, in contrast to many other countries in Europe. Johnson says people aged over 70 are to avoid unnecessary social contact with other people for up to 12 weeks.

Now that Johnson has advised a ban on “non-essential contact,” it is believed a number of cinema chains and theater operators, which have been awaiting government guidance in order to move ahead with closures, will begin acting accordingly.

Only a handful of businesses took pre-emptive measures in response to public health concerns ahead of the ban.

As previously reported by Variety, London theater The Old Vic closed the Daniel Radcliffe-starring “Endgame” two weeks ahead of its schedule end, while independent theaters such as the Arcola also suspended productions on Sunday.

While most cinemas remain open for now, theater chain Showcase Cinemas became the first major exhibition chain to enforce a “social distancing” policy at their establishments over the weekend.

Meanwhile, production is already taking a hit, with Netflix ceasing production on Henry Cavill-starrer “The Witcher” — one of the streaming giant’s hit TV originals — while Disney has suspended production on “The Little Mermaid” out of Pinewood.

So far, 36 people in the U.K. have died from the virus.

Manori Ravindran contributed to this report.