Twitter has reacted with a mixture of outrage and delight over Andrew Lloyd Webber’s claims that he will reopen his theatres on 21 June even if it means being arrested.
The musical theatre impresario fired a warning shot at Boris Johnson in a new interview in The Telegraph, telling the prime minister he will open his venues regardless of what Covid regulations are in place.
He said he is prepared to be arrested if police intervene, declaring that his new production of Cinderella will go ahead “come hell or high water”.
Webber’s comments come after reports that England’s 21 June unlocking date – when theatres are allowed to reopen at a higher capacity– will be delayed for several more weeks.
Many social media users criticised Webber’s remarks, with one person tweeting: “Andrew Lloyd Webber being more concerned about lining his pocket than public safety?? Say it isn’t so.”
Another added: “If so he should be arrested, pay any medical bills for people catching Covid and meeting Financial costs of those developing Long Covid for as long as it takes for them to recover to their former selves.”
Others supported Webber, with actor John Barrowman tweeting: “YES ANDREW! YES! I AM WITH YOU ALL THE WAY!!!! FULL CAPACITY FOR THEATRES!!! JB.”
Another Twitter user added: “Good for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Good to see someone taking a stand and voicing it to media who actually hear and print it! I’m fed up of this one sided 21st June media frenzy.”
The Cats creator, who quit as a Tory peer in 2017, told the paper he may have to sell his six West End venues if the government does not press ahead with relaxing restrictions in just under two weeks’ time.
Webber, whose net worth The Sunday Times Rich list put at £525m for 2021, said he has already had to remortgage his London home.
The pandemic has had a catastrophic financial impact on the theatre industry and many have remained closed despite the ease in Covid-19 restrictions as it is not financially viable for them to open with reduced capacities.
Webber is preparing for a production of Cinderella, which is scheduled to open for previews on 25 June ahead of its world premiere in July.
The 21 June “freedom day” is in doubt due to concerns over the impact of the Delta variant, first identified in India.
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