Can pubs and cinemas survive the Coronavirus outbreak?
The government is expected to table legislation in the Commons next week which would ban gatherings of more than 500 people.
While some of the largest sports leagues and enterainters have already taken action, smaller venues and acts say shutdown could do serious harm to their businesses.
Sky News has spoken to pubs, cinemas and Live TV broadcasters to see what they’re doing to keep customers and audiences safe.
Pubs and clubs
For independent bars and clubs, the prospect of a lack of revenue is daunting.
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) is one of London’s most famous LGBT+ pubs, frequently selling out cabaret and club nights like Duckie and Push The Button.
The chancellor Rishi Sunak, in his recent budget, announced the abolition of business rates for certain companies to help them during the COVID-19 pandemic. But this hasn’t alleviated the RVT’s chief executive James Lindsay’s concerns.
“The government took a step in the week to give businesses a rate-free period, but it’s not helping us in any way,” he told Sky News.
“It’s really concerning. Because of the nature of the virus, we’re not covered by our insurance. It is uncomfortable thinking at the moment.”
Mr Lindsay added that the impact of the outbreak could affect the wider nightlife industry.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, said: “This is a question of survival for hospitality businesses. In two months they will run out of cash, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk.”
Wetherspoons, one of the most popular pub chains in the UK, has yet to say whether they will be closing stores.
In a statement on their website, however, the chain said it would be “educating employees on prevention” and “cleaning and sanitising contact points more frequently”.
Film production and promotion schedules have been affected by the outbreak, with Disney pushing back the release of its remake of Mulan and the soft reboot of the X-Men franchise, The New Mutants.
The UK Cinema Association, which represents the interests of UK cinema operators, has said COVID-19 should not mean the public cannot visit the cinema.
But the organisation warned: “The decision by a number of US studios to delay the release of several of their upcoming major films presents an unprecedented challenge to many UK cinemas, and is something which may genuinely call into question the survival of a number of sites.”
One UK chain, Showcase Cinemas, has taken measures into their own hands, ahead of government and public health advice.
In an email to customers, Showcase said it would be reducing audience capacity by 50% in auditioriums in order to allow for space between seats.
“If staff or a guest at the cinema is showing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they will be respectfully asked to leave,” the company said in the email.
ITV, whose entertainment programmes like Dancing On Ice and The Voice UK rely heavily on live audiences, has told Sky News that it would prefer shows to be made without an audience.
In a message of guidance to production teams, the company said the measure is “precautionary” and that “all productions” are being assessed.
But Ant And Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, one of the UK’s most popular Saturday night programmes, will continue to go ahead “business as usual” according to one of its presenters Declan Donnelly.
ITV also said that fewer than 500 people are in the studio for Saturday Night Takeaway, adding it would comply with advice given by Public Health England and the World Health Organisation.
The channel went on to say: “All of our audience handling agencies are sharing the updated advice from the NHS site with audiences prior to attending our shows and we continue to work with them to update advice as and when it changes.”
Channel 5 is taking further steps. The channel said in a statement: “As a precautionary measure we have taken the decision not to have a live studio audience for The Jeremy Vine Show for the time being.
“We will continue to monitor and review official guidelines and advice.”
The BBC and Channel 4 will continue to air shows in front of live audiences – for now.
As well as well as creating television programmes, the BBC also records and airs radio programmes like The News Quiz and The Now Show, which often require a live audience.
The corporation said: “We’re keeping the situation with our audience-based programmes under review.
“While the current government advice doesn’t necessarily prevent such programmes taking place, this is a rapidly evolving situation and we take seriously our duty of care to audiences, panellists and our staff.”
Channel 4, whose programmes Countdown and The Last Leg use live audiences, also said it would be looking at advice given by Public Health England.
“We and our production partners across all of our shows are continuing to monitor the situation very closely.”