Cirque du Soleil Lays Off 95 Percent of Staff After Closing Shows

Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil

The Montreal-based circus giant said temporarily cutting 4,679 jobs was necessary after 44 shows worldwide were shuttered amid the virus outbreak.

Cirque du Soleil, creator of many of the most popular shows in Las Vegas, has temporarily laid off 4,679 employees, or 95 percent of its global workforce, after suspending 44 shows worldwide because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"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," Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, said Monday in a statement.

The Montreal-based company said the coronavirus pandemic had forced the closure of its shows in cities and countries worldwide where local health officials took measures for social distancing. The canceled shows in Las Vegas include O at the Bellagio, KA at MGM Grand, The Beatles LOVE at the Mirage, Mystere at Treasure Island, Zumanity at New York-New York and Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay.

Cirque du Soleil shows in Austin; Chicago; Houston; New Orleans; Salt Lake City; Montreal; Boston; Tel Aviv; Meloneras, Spain; Munich; Costa Mesa, California; Denver; and the Australian cities of Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth were also canceled.

"Consequently, 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 in a statement.

Cirque added a "core support team" will remain with the company to maintain tour planning and ticket sales for shows set to run later this year and in 2021, and to "prepare for rehiring as soon as productions are allowed to resume."