Contemporary circus titan Cirque du Soleil has temporarily laid off nearly its entire staff after shows were halted due to the coronavirus’ widespread impact across the live event industry.

Earlier this week, the Montreal-based company announced it was suspending operations of all shows. The affected productions include seven residencies in Las Vegas and Orlando, plus 13 various touring productions. Over 4,600 crew and performers are now without work as a result of the industry’s downturn and only a small number of essential core personnel will remain staffed to keep operations running in the meantime.

“It is the most difficult day in Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group history,” CEO Daniel Lamarre said in a 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.”

The company went on to say that while a timeline for possible re-hirings is uncertain, they are working with its partners and government resources to ensure affected employees are provided the support they need. Cirque du Soleil confirmed that those who have been laid off will be granted paid vacation time, maintain their insurance coverage and given access to employee support programs.

“As one of the most trusted brands and successful live entertainment organizations, we are confident that when the day comes when we can reopen our shows, we will be ready to welcome the millions of fans who come to our shows worldwide,” Lamarre added.

Cirque du Soleil had some 44 productions in its active wheelhouse prior to the performance shutdown. Among its most widely seen are Michael Jackson ONE and The Beatles LOVE, both of which are housed on the now-dark Las Vegas Strip.

Photo via Cirque du Soleil / @Cirque

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