Cirque du Soleil axes almost all staff as coronavirus leads to canceled shows

(Reuters) – Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group said on Thursday it has laid off almost all of its workforce, except the support team, as social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic forced the Montreal-based circus company to cancel shows.

The job cuts would impact 95% of its workforce or more than 4,000 people, the company said.

Movie theaters, malls and retail stores have shut to limit the spread of the virus that has killed more than 100 people in the United States.

Earlier this month, the company had temporarily suspended its shows in Las Vegas, one of its prominent areas.

The circus group said a core support team will continue to work on tour plans and ticket sales for shows later this year and in 2021 and prepare for rehiring when productions resume.

Cities and countries where the group performs have unanimously legislated the closure of public gatherings of more than 250 people, following government guidance, the company said.

“This decision is our only option,” Chief Executive Officer Daniel Lamarre said in a statement.

The company said the laid off employees would be given paid vacation, temporary insurance coverage and access to its employee support program.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

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