Which London theatre shows and tourist attractions are being cancelled?

Against a backdrop of soaring Omicron cases, public wariness and infections among cast members, the UK capital's festive shows are drawing down the curtain

The Victoria Palace Theatre in London has cancelled performances of 'Hamilton'. Getty Images

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The UK's leading theatres are suffering from a wave of cancellations as the country is hit by surging Omicron infections that forced the government into renewed restrictions encouraging people to work from home.

A vaccine booster campaign is under way but official warnings from medics and government leaders to keep the festive partying to a minimum means the hospitality and entertainment industries are suffering a hammer blow.

Which London theatre shows and venues have been affected?

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber has cancelled his theatre production of Cinderella until February.

On Twitter, he wrote: "Once again, this wretched virus has put paid to the joy of entertaining audiences, something that I hold so dear."

The Natural History Museum is closing its doors for a week due to “staff shortages” related to coronavirus until December 28.

The West End performance of Disney's The Lion King will be closed from Tuesday due to “ongoing Covid-enforced absences” among the cast and crew.

A statement on Twitter said: “Unfortunately performances of Disney's The Lion King in London scheduled to take place between Tuesday 21 December and Sunday 26 December can no longer play as scheduled.”

Performances of Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, featuring Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley and staged at the Playhouse Theatre in the West End, were cancelled last week with more cancellations announced on December 20.

The Book Of Mormon has also cancelled a week of shows following an “exponential” rise in positive Covid cases among their London cast and crew.

On Instagram, producers announced: “We have had to make the decision to cancel all performances of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre until Monday 27 December.”

People arriving for the evening performance of 'Mary Poppins' at the Prince Edward Theatre on Old Compton Street, London. PA

Performances of Hex at the National Theatre, based on the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, were also cancelled until after Christmas.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Troubadour Theatre Wembley was also postponed until after the festive break.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's The Comedy of Errors at the Barbican has been halted, with the production hoping to restart on Thursday, December 23.

Force Majeure at the Donmar Warehouse has been cancelled until December 29 after cast members tested positive for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, announced that the traditional New Year's Eve celebration in Trafalgar Square would not go ahead this year.

People staying home because of government guidance

When the UK moved to Plan B restrictions as a reaction to the Omicron outbreak, it encouraged work-from-home policies.

It also acted as a warning sign for people wanting to celebrate the festive period. Although venues are still open, trade is slow.

In the City of London financial district, fewer than 30 people were outside bars near the famous Leadenhall Market, which is usually packed with City workers.

Restaurateur Tom Kerridge took to social media on Tuesday to reveal that 654 guests had cancelled reservations in six days, saying that many restaurants would “crumble” without help.

The festive period is crucial to theatres for income and reaching new audiences, especially after most productions were cancelled or delayed in 2020.

This year, theatres have been able to stage productions without restrictions on audience capacity.

Joanna Reid, executive director at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, central England, said her theatre was forced to abandon some of its Christmas pantomime shows because of a coronavirus outbreak among performers and staff.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, she said that her theatre has refunded customers about £180,000 after the cancellations, which have resulted in a “real dent of confidence".

“It is heartbreaking. We were delighted that we were able to open the show. We gave 10 performances and then we had an outbreak 10 days ago. Half the cast tested positive and some crew as well.”

She said that audience demand for the shows was robust, despite what she called “mixed messaging” from the government.

“People are wanting to come to the theatre, feeling safe in our theatre due to the See It Safely Campaign, and making their own decisions,” Ms Reid said.

Many venues have enacted the industrywide See It Safely programme, which allows venues to display a special mark once they have signed up to a code of conduct and proved they are following the latest guidance.

Approved venues receive a tool kit including the mark, which can be displayed in venues and on promotional material, an animated safety video, signage and further training.

Audiences now have to wear masks and show a Covid passport when attending the theatre due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Updated: December 21st 2021, 6:22 PM