Andrew Lloyd Webber has called on the government to trial a “game-changing” chemical he claims could allow theatres to reopen.
The composer and theatre maker has spent months lobbying the government to test the chemical triethylene glycol (TEG) and see whether it could be used to help open up venues and schools.
According to Lloyd Webber, tests of the substance’s effectiveness at removing Covid-19 were successfully carried out at a Broadway theatre last year.
However, the 72-year-old said that health and safety officials in the UK were “frightened” and blocking the plan despite interest from Downing Street.
“All we are is saying is, ‘Look, you should trial this’. Because if it is safe it could be a game-changer for schools and any form of indoor public space,” Lloyd Webber said.
“To be absolutely fair, the government side is really quite interested. But it seems it has hit [a wall] with the health people once again. One is hitting a sort of reticence because people are so frightened of trying something that might be dangerous.”
Manufacturers of TEG, which is already used to sanitise venues, claim it can clean the air when continually sprayed indoors.
However, governmental independent advisory body Sage said that there was “limited evidence” that chemical sprays could effectively reduce the transmission of airborne viruses.
“At the same time, there is the potential for respiratory or skin irritation for those exposed over a long period of time,” they said. “We currently would not recommend using them without further evidence to support their safety and efficiency.”
A ministerial source told The Daily Mail that while the government had “looked fairly” at Lloyd Webber’s proposal, they felt there was not enough scientific backing to trial the chemical.
The theatre veteran has been vocal about his desire to reopen theatres amid the pandemic, stating in December that he believed the West End would reopen in the summer of 2021 following the roll out of the coronavirus vaccine.
His new musical Cinderella is scheduled to open on 30 April at the Gillian Lynne Theatre.
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