Cirque du Soleil just laid off 95% off its employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic
Cancelled shows due to preventative coronavirus measures worldwide has forced the Montreal-based performance company Cirque du Soleil to temporarily lay off 95 per cent of its work force.
According to a statement released by the entertainment group today, 4,679 employees have been fired, effective immediately.
"It is the most difficult day in Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group history," says the statement. "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."
Countries around the globe have banned public gatherings of more than 250 people due to the COVID-19 crisis, leading Cirque du Soleil to enact "an unprecedented halt in activity until the pandemic is controlled".
People are now opting for free, online shows instead of live performances in the wake of calls for social distancing.
Cirque du Soleil says that, when the coronavirus pandemic began, they had 44 productions in the works but have since been forced to shut them all down.
The company says it's providing support to those employees who've been temporarily laid off, including paid vacation time and maintaining insurance coverage.
The company will now be run by a core support team that will continue basic operations like tour planning and ticket sales for shows in late 2020 and in 2021.
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