MALVERN Theatres will be closing its doors for the first time in more than two decades to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Chief executive Nic Lloyd said: “The safety of our audiences, staff, actors, and performers, is of paramount importance to us and, in line with other organisations, we are temporarily closing our doors.

“This will be a difficult time, but we are well-prepared and will use this period to ensure that the theatre reopens with aplomb when the time comes.

“I’m certain that audiences will continue to support us as they always have done, for which we are very grateful

“Malvern’s strength and community spirit is renowned and now, more than ever, we must pull together. I look forward to welcoming everyone back to the theatre once we are advised that it is safe to do so.”

Mayor of Malvern Cllr Neil Morton said: “We all have a duty of care and and during this time we have to put safety above entertainment.”

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Where possible, shows are being rearranged and ticket holders for cancelled shows will be contacted.

The online box office will operate as usual and credit notes or refunds are available over the telephone.

Ticket holders are encouraged, where able, to consider exchanging their tickets for a future performance, or gifting the ticket as a donation to the theatre.

Only one per cent of the theatre’s running costs are publicly funded and they rely on ticket sales, among other things, to operate and the closure could have a big impact on revenue.

The Three Counties Showground has cancelled upcoming events due to the virus threat.

Cinema chains including Cineworld, Odeon and Vue have closed all of their branches across the UK due to the coronavirus outbreak.