BFI exterior

Source: BFI

BFI Southbank

The British Film Institute has closed its BFI Southbank complex with immediate effect, following the UK government’s advice over the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from the organisation said: ”It is with great regret that, due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, and following government’s updated advice on 16 March, we have taken the decision to close BFI Southbank effective immediately, and all forthcoming events and screenings are now cancelled or postponed.”

The move came a day after UK prime minister Boris Johnson advised people to avoid such locations, while stopping short of forcing venues to close, as coronavirus spreads.

Leading UK cinema chains Odeon and Cineworld as well as the latter’s boutique arm Picturehouse have also announced closures across the UK and Ireland.

“Our priority is first and foremost the health of our staff and of our audiences and visitors to BFI Southbank,” the statement continued.

“Our teams work incredibly hard on developing our programmes, and the decision to close the venue and cancel all events has not been taken lightly, particularly as the financial implications on us as a charity are considerable.

“Please be assured that all ticket holders for cancelled events have options on refunds and we will be contacting people in due course. However, by not requesting a refund you would be making an exceptionally generous and much appreciated charitable donation to the BFI during these unprecedented times.

We will update regularly on the situation and look forward to welcoming you back to the BFI soon.”

Yesterday, BFI chief executive Ben Roberts issued a statement regarding the outbreak amid a wave of production and festival postponements and theatre closures around the globe.

Roberts said the BFI’s screen sector taskforce would liaise with the UK government during the crisis, and pledged the BFI’s support to ”our many industry colleagues during this fast moving and rapidly evolving situation”.