UK Government Unveils Support Package For Cinemas, Theaters and Museums Amidst Omicron Chaos

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled an extra £30M ($40M) to help theatres and museums in England impacted by the Omicron variant, while cinemas can apply for grants of up to £6,000 ($7,950) per premises.

The move comes as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed there will be no new Covid measures in England before Christmas but said curbs could be imposed next week once more data on the Omicron variant is available.

Omicron has been causing mass cancellations of trips to cultural venues in the run up to Christmas, with Covid-19 case numbers just shy of 100,000 per day and Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently mandating for masks indoors and vaccine passports for plus-500 capacity venues. West End theaters have been pulling shows, with James Graham’s Best of Enemies and the Jessie Buckley/Eddie Redmayne-starring Cabaret both delayed until January.

Bowing to pressure from various cultural/business groups and the wider public, Sunak unveiled a £1BN ($1.3BN) hospitality support package this afternoon, including a £30M extension to the Culture Recovery Fund that helps theaters and museums.

Along with restaurants, bars and theatres, cinemas will meanwhile be able to apply for grants of up to £6,000 per premises.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all of which currently have stricter lockdown laws than England, have also been given support. Earlier today, Scotland was forced into cancelling its annual New Year’s Hogmanay event for the second year running.

Asked if more support would be offered, Sunak said he would “always respond proportionately and appropriately to the situation we face”.

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