London Mayoral candidate and leader of the Reclaim Party Laurence Fox stated he would use the power of his voice to end Covid-19 restrictions on theatres if elected in May.
Theatres are currently due to resume performances from 17th May with a limited capacity of 1000, with larger indoor performances returning without restrictions on 21st June.
The Coronavirus Act states only the Prime Minister can end lockdown, but Fox remained adamant that the power of his voice as mayor could assist in ending restrictions.
He said: “You use your voice as the mayor, it’s the biggest democratic mandate in the UK.
“So you use your voice and you call for the Government to do it, celebrate this city, don’t close it down, open it up.
“I think that the theatres should never have closed myself, because the evidence is coming in that lockdown is not an effective policy, we have comparative evidence from America in Florida and Texas.”
Florida and Texas both have relatively relaxed Covid-19 restrictions and have had fewer cases than some states which took tougher steps, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean less stringent rules are to credit for better coronavirus statistics.
Fox is also not concerned that a third wave is a threat to the UK, citing that he believes that vaccinations should allow theatres to reopen for good.
He said: “I think all evidence points to the fact that the virus is in retreat. The Government are claiming great success with the vaccination so there’s no reason why, now the top ten most vulnerable groups are protected and covered, that theatres can’t get open and stay open.
“We’re vaccinated! As Chris Witty said the third wave will come up against a wall of vaccinations.
“Now whatever your views on vaccinations are, that’s a whole different ball game, but that’s what the Government are saying that we’re sorted, so if we’re sorted let’s get it open.”
According to the BBC, 79% of people aged 55 and above in London had a dose of the vaccine before 14th March.
However, Fox stressed that relying on vaccinations as the route to a permanent end to lockdowns did not contradict his belief that the Government should not compel people to be vaccinated.
He said: “No, I’m sorry, I’m relying on the fact that this is an extremely non-lethal disease to people under 50 and those people have been vaccinated, the top most vulnerable groups.
“So people are going to have milder asymptomatic responses to this illness, that’s not a reason to shut down the entire theatre sector.”
While death rates remain substantially lower among the under-50s, there are still serious side-effects for those who catch the disease.
The 2021 London mayoral election will be held on 6th May, but Fox stated this will not hinder his desire to see theatres, music venues and nightlife in London reopen by 12th April.
Were the actor to be elected mayor on 8th May once all votes are counted he’d have one working week until London enters step three of the four-stage reopening plan and just six weeks until restrictions are removed altogether.
When asked how he’d do this when the election was on 6th May he said; “I’m saying that we need to open now, every day that this is going on is a death nail to businesses, theatres, hospitality, everything.
“I’ve said all non-essential businesses should open on 12th April, that’s art, nightlife, everything. People need to get out and have fun again it’s costing over a billion pounds a day.
“Why don’t we take that billion pounds, if Rishi Sunak’s insisting on printing it, and instead of bribing people to stay at home and furlough it, give them that money to go to work?”
Fox has also been an outspoken critic of Sadiq Khan, stating in a previous interview that Khan is a “totally incompetent fool” and that “on every single metric he has failed this city”.
Khan has received praise for policies relating to arts, culture and nightlife, including the 24-hour tube and night czar, but Fox clarified that despite saying ‘every metric’, his comments pertained more to knife crime.
He said; “When I talk about Sadiq Khan, I’m talking about the most important things like young people losing their lives to knife violence on our streets.
“Burglaries up murders up, crime is generally up in London and I think he’s a virtue signaller so my view is let’s focus on the really crucial parts of crime.”
Fox spoke before discussing issues relating to theatres in the wake of Covid-19 at the 600 year old Old Red Lion Theatre and Pub in Islington.
He attended after police had warned him that his campaigning may be breaking coronavirus regulations at his home that morning.
You can check out all the London Mayor candidates here.
Featured image credit: BBC via iPlayer from Question Time