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Coronavirus Kent: Orchard Theatre in Dartford to close

One of Kent's major theatres has announced it will close tonight.

It follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson's warning for people to avoid all but essential travel and to work from home if they can.

The Orchard Theatre will close tonight
The Orchard Theatre will close tonight

The Orchard theatre in Dartford said it would close from tonight as its priority was customer safety.

A spokesman added: "In response to the Prime Minister’s statement advising that people should avoid non-essential contact with others; all events and shows from Tuesday 17 March 2020 in our venue are suspended.

"We appreciate this will be disappointing news, but hope customers will understand the unprecedented nature of the current circumstances. Ultimately the health and wellbeing of all is the most important consideration at this time.

"We will be posting further statements over the coming days about the status of forthcoming shows. Where performances do not proceed we will make contact with customers at the appropriate time to advise on the next steps.

"We would ask all customers to refrain from contacting the Box Office unless absolutely necessary to do so. Please be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to understand the implications and to put appropriate steps in place.

Derren Brown was set to appear this month
Derren Brown was set to appear this month

"Thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time."

Shows likely to be affected by the closure include comedian Rob Beckett, the Chicago Blues Brothers and hypnotist Derren Brown.

Meanwhile, the Marlowe in Canterbury has announced all shows have been cancelled until April 17.

In Folkestone, Leas Cliff Hall has temporarily suspended shows with imediate effect.

A statement from Mark Cornell, CEO of Ambassador Theatre Group said: "In response to the Prime Minister’s statement this evening, advising the UK public to avoid unnecessary social contact, including in theatres, we regret to inform you that shows in all Ambassador Theatre Group UK venues are temporarily suspended with immediate effect.

"We understand that this decision comes as a disappointment, and a massive inconvenience for those of you already on the way to a venue this evening, but ultimately we all want the same thing: the health and safety of our communities, and we believe this is the correct decision to make.

"Given the current ambiguity and lack of clarity as to how long our theatres may be closed for, we hope to provide you with an update within the next 48 hours regarding the exchange of tickets. We will be consulting with industry bodies including the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre and the government over the immediate future.

"For now, we would like to thank you for your understanding and patience, and to recognise the incredible efforts and support of producers, artists, partners and customers over this difficult period."

The Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone this morning said it was 'working on a plan of action' but has not yet said if it will be closing.

A previous statement from the venue said: "Following current guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS, The Hazlitt remains open at this time. Our senior management team are monitoring PHE advice and are responding to any updates.

"In addition to PHE advice, we have introduced enhanced ongoing sanitising of high contact areas and are taking precautions to ensure the health and safety of our customers.

"Some individual promoters are taking the decision to postpone or cancel touring performances and our customers who are affected by this will be contacted directly.

"Given the ever-changing nature of the situation, we will endeavour to keep our customers up to date with the latest information via our website, therefore please check back regularly. Thank you for your ongoing support."

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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