Andrew Lloyd Webber joins legal action to force government to release research on COVID restrictions

Lord Lloyd Webber has been vocal about the impact of the pandemic on his industry. (Getty Images)
Lord Lloyd Webber has been vocal about the impact of the pandemic on his industry. (Getty Images)

Andrew Lloyd Webber has joined a legal bid to get the government to share the findings of its research into relaxing COVID restrictions at events.

The theatre impresario and others including musician Peter Gabriel and producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh want to see the results of the Events Research Programme (ERP), which ran test events at arts, music and sports venues to ascertain the safety of large gatherings during the pandemic. Live shows which took part include the Brits and Download festival.

It was thought that the findings would be shared in recent days, but the release has been delayed.

The group say it means it is "impossible to plan for any live entertainment business".

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They said in a statement: “These events have been a huge success, according to the government itself in various press reports, showing that with proper precautions in place, live events at full capacity can go ahead safely.

“But the government chose to keep the live entertainment industry under severe restrictions from June 21, while allowing parts of the economy that have not been subject to similar scientific studies, including hospitality, public transport and retail, to operate.”

Cameron Mackintosh attending the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in Covent Garden, London. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Picture date: Sunday November 18th, 2018. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/ EMPICS Entertainment.
Cameron Mackintosh is also part of the group. (Matt Crossick/ EMPICS Entertainment)

As well as calling to see the ERP research, the group want a government-backed insurance fund to cover live events.

Lloyd Webber, 73, has been vocal about the impact of the pandemic on the industry and previously said he had mortgaged his home and may have to sell have to sell his six West End theatres if the government didn't lift lockdown restrictions.

The composer, whose new show Cinderella is due to start this month, has also accused the government of “cherry-picking” sports events to go ahead.

 Andrew Lloyd Webber�s Cinderella his latest musical comedy starring Carrie Hope Fletcher which is due to reopen at the Gillian Lynne Theater in London�s west end in April 2021.
The Theater has a sign saying 'Opening Spring 2021... If We're Allowed!' in reference to Theaters being closed at present to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical is due to start soon. (SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

He recently said: “Last week I rejected the government’s invitation for Cinderella to be singled out as a last-minute part of the Events Research Programme.

“Today, with a range of voices from across the theatre and live entertainment industries, we are forced to take it further.”

Lloyd Webber – who volunteered to be part of an early trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine last August – went on: “We simply must now see the data that is being used to strangle our industry so unfairly.

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“The government’s actions are forcing theatre and music companies off a cliff as the summer wears on whilst cherry-picking high-profile sporting events to go ahead.”

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a new signage with ‘We’ll be back soon’ on the Sondheim theatre completed after Producer Cameron Mackintosh announced that Les Miserables is set to come back to London's West End by Christmas with tickets going on sale soon after having shut due to the UK entering lockdown. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
The theatre industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. (Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Lloyd Webber described the situation as “beyond urgent”.

Additional reporting from PA.

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