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16 Mar 10:00 GMT / 06:00 EST

The Drum Digital Transformation Festival launch

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Gordon Young
Editor-in-chief at The Drum

Creative trade body says UK PM’s coronavirus stance could ‘cripple’ industry

Image by Klaudia Piaskowska via Unsplash

Fears of an unprecedented financial impact on the creative industries sector are mounting following a statement by prime minister ​Boris Johnson that sets out an advisory rather than a mandatory stance on social distancing.

More than a matter of mere semantics, the guidelines restrict the potential for organisations and venues to claw back lost income from their insurers in the event of lost traffic - with potentially dire consequences.

In the first of a new daily series of televised addresses to the nation, Johnson said: "now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel."

"We need people to start working from home where they possibly can. And you should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues".

Reacting to the statement Caroline Norbury, chief executive officer of the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, said: "the advice issued by the government today is a crippling blow to the UK’s creative industries."

"As the social distancing measures announced this afternoon are only advisory, rather than an outright ban, we are deeply concerned that creative organisations and cultural spaces will find they are unable to claim compensation for the huge losses they will experience as a result of Covid-19.

"Public safety remains the top priority for everyone in the creative sector. However, these measures have the potential to devastate the UK’s theatres, museums, cinemas, venues and other cultural spaces reliant on audiences, visitors and participation, as well as the huge array of creators and freelancers who work within these industries."

A raft of new financial mitigation measures are now being looked into by the government, as UK-wide theatres and music venues such as the National Theatre, London Palladium and Royal Opera House close their doors.

The coronavirus outbreak is the second crisis to hit the Creative Industries Federation in recent years following Brexit, with the organisation having only just begun to get a handle on the potential damage and opportunities presented by the referendum result.

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