Cirque du Soleil axes 95% of workforce

MONTREAL • 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 it to cancel shows.

The job cuts would impact 95 per cent of its workforce or over 4,500 people, as all 44 of its shows worldwide have been closed, the Montreal-based circus company said.

The layoffs were effective immediately, according to its statement.

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

Earlier this month, the company temporarily suspended its shows in Las Vegas.

The circus group said a core support team will continue to work on tour plans and ticket sales for shows later this year and next year, 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 guidelines, the company said.

The company said staff members who were retrenched would be given paid vacation, temporary insurance coverage and access to its employee-support programme.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2020, with the headline 'Cirque du Soleil axes 95% of workforce'. Subscribe