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Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based entertainment company that is the largest contemporary circus producer in the world, has temporarily laid off almost its entire workforce after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to cancel shows.
Job cuts will affect 95% of its staff, more than 4,000 people, the company said in a statement. It added that it hopes to support workers during the disruption and “rebuild once the global crisis subsides.”
On Monday, the outfit temporarily suspended all of its shows on the Vegas strip, as well as its planned run of "Volta" in Orange County. It has now shut down all 44 of its productions around the world. The move mirrors leisure sector businesses around the world which have had to halt events as governments issue restrictions on public gatherings.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision for the group, but a necessary measure to stabilize the company for the future,” Cirque du Soleil’s statement read. “The company was left with no other option but to call for an unprecedented halt in activity until the pandemic is controlled and its performers, employees and audience members are no longer at risk.”
The company said it was now working with all of its partners, and federal and provincial governments, to identify how to support its employees. It said it hopes for a “healthy return as soon as the pandemic is controlled.”
Immediate steps to support employees include paid vacation time, insurance coverage maintained during the temporary layoff and access to the group’s employee support program, it added.
“It is the most difficult day in Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group history. We’re deeply saddened by the dramatic measures taken today, as the temporary layoff includes many hardworking, dedicated people. Unfortunately, this decision is our only option as we are forced to position ourselves to weather this storm and prepare for eventual re-openings,” said Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.