Jason Manford is refusing to pull out of his touring musical show, explaining that “a lot of people” are financially dependent on it continuing, despite the coronavirus outbreak.
The comedian, 38, responded to criticism on Twitter as the number of people who have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK continues to rise.
Thirty-five have now died, with 1,372 confirmed infections across the country.
Manford said he had been receiving “the odd, shall we say ‘forceful’ message” about cancelling the tour of Curtains: The Musical, a comedy whodunnit.
He explained that not just the cast but also the crew and those on zero-hours contracts working at the theatres the show was due to travel to would all be impacted if it was cancelled.
He wrote: “Unfortunately I, like many people, irrespective of my opinion have a) a contract and a boss who’s decision this is and b) have a lot of people depending on the income of a tour this size.
“At a push I could financially get through half a year not working before it became a problem financially but if I decided to not go to Leicester on Monday say, the show would still go on as I have an understudy.
“With cast, crew, band & the folks in the office (not to mention the hundreds of zero-hour contract folks who work in the theatres) there are over 100 people all working on this show.
“If they suddenly cancelled it without the government’s say so, their insurance would be null and void putting a lot of those people in financial ruin,” he added.
Although the government is going to ask manufacturing firms to assist the NHS by producing more ventilators, it has not yet banned large gatherings.
Emergency laws may be introduced this week to ban gatherings of more than 500 people in an attempt to curb transmissions of the virus.
Manford said: “Please do not patronise me about the seriousness of the pandemic, I’m well aware, I get the same news channels as you; I just have a responsibility to these people to make sure that when the worst happens they are in the strongest position to get through it.”
The show is a musical which stars Manford as a local detective who is a musical theatre fan and centres around the murder of a performer on the opening night of the a new show.
It is next scheduled to be on at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester on Monday.