Andrew Lloyd-Webber has vowed to reopen his London shows later this month, regardless of whether the government goes ahead with so-called ‘freedom day’.
The theatre entrepreneur has had he is willing to be arrested if authorities try to intervene in his plans to re-open.
“We are going to open, come hell or high water,” Lloyd-Webber said in an interview with The Telegraph.
Lloyd-Webber’s new show, Cinderella, is due to open for previews on June 25, four days after the earliest date for the government to lift its remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, which include strict limits on the size of theatre audiences.
According to the government’s roadmap, June 21 will see the relaxation of all remaining Covid-19 restrictions, a date widely dubbed ‘freedom day’ that could see life almost return to pre-pandemic normality.
But a recent rise in cases linked to the variant first found in India – now known as the Delta variant – has raised speculation that the measures will be pushed back by two weeks or more.
Asked what he would do if the government postpones the June 21 re-opening, Lloyd-Webber said: “We will say: ‘Come to the theatre and arrest us’.”
Lloyd-Webber said his theatres were suffering “acute financial stress” because of the restrictions, forcing him to remortgage his London home, and that he might have to sell his six venues in the capital.
Asked if he should be arrested if he decided to break the rules, housing minister Robert Jenrick said: “I’m sure that Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s comments are made in the heat of the moment.
“I’m sure he feels very strongly… [but] we all have to abide by the rules,” he told Sky News, adding that a decision on the re-opening would be made in the coming days.