British theatre entrepreneur Andrew Lloyd-Webber has vowed to reopen his shows in London without social distancing restrictions later this month, even if he is arrested for it.
"We are going to open, come hell or high water," Lloyd-Webber said in an interview with The Telegraph published on Wednesday.
Lloyd-Webber's new show, Cinderella, is due to open for previews on June 25, four days after the earliest date for the government to lift its remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, which include strict limits on the size of theatre audiences.
Britain has raced ahead of many other countries by giving a first COVID-19 shot to more than three-quarter of adults.
But a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of the coronavirus first identified in India has raised speculation that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will push back the lifting of the last restrictions in England by two weeks or more.
Asked by the Telegraph what he would do if the government postpones the June 21 re-opening, Lloyd-Webber said: "We will say: 'Come to the theatre and arrest us'."
Lloyd-Webber said his theatres were suffering "acute financial stress" because of the restrictions, forcing him to remortgage his London home, and he might have to sell his six venues in the centre of the British capital.
Asked if he should be arrested if he decided to break the rules, housing minister Robert Jenrick said: "I'm sure that Andrew Lloyd-Webber's comments are made in the heat of the moment."
"I'm sure he feels very strongly… (but) we all have to abide by the rules," he told Sky News, adding that a decision on the re-opening would be made in the coming days.