LEDBURY'S popular January panto will not be going ahead this year due to ongoing concerns around the coronavirus crisis.

The Market Theatre will not be re-opening until 2021 because of concerns about how social distancing can be implemented on- and off-stage.

A statement from the theatre's management said: "We are very sorry to announce that The Market Theatre Ledbury will remain closed for the rest of this year.

"Also for the first time in over forty years, we will be unable to stage our annual Pantomime in January 2021.

"In the coming weeks we will be developing our risk assessment to ensure that The Market Theatre is a safe place for audiences and performers, and as soon as it is practicable we will re-open.

"We cannot wait to be back, and thank you everyone for your continued support."

The main reasons for the theatre’s continued closure largely revolve around social distancing, with shows of more than five or six cast members unlikely to be feasible due to the lack of space in and around the theatre.

Despite this, the theatre is said to be financially secure and actively looking for ways to re-open safely.

Chairman of Ledbury Amateur Dramatic Society, David Coker, said safety was the main motivator for the decision.

He said: "One of the problems we face is that many of our volunteers and support staff, myself included, are over 70, so we are all having to be careful when it comes to this virus.

"We are entirely dependent on volunteers and so while we are financially very secure, we have to look out for those volunteers.

"We have actively worked on plans for next year, but these are entirely subject to what happens with coronavirus.

"We have ideas for the kind of shows we could do when audiences can return. Obviously a one-man or one-woman show has no concerns over social distancing.

"We had a show in planning which had a cast of three, so with three dressing rooms, we could do that."

Mr Coker added the theatre remains examining different ways to re-open safely.

For more updates on the theatre, go to themarkettheatre.com