Jason has been criticised (Picture: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Jason Manford is taking a break from Twitter after being criticised for going ahead with his theatre tour amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

The Masked Singer finalist is currently playing Frank Cioffi in Curtains: The Musical Comedy, which is set to play a string of dates in Leicester, High Wycombe, Wolverhampton and Southampton, which run until 11 April.

While numerous live events and concerts have been cancelled across the UK to prevent further spread of coronavirus, Manford confirmed he would not be dropping out of the show as he wants to make sure the people involved in Curtains get paid.

The 38-year-old wrote on Twitter: ‘Keep getting the odd, shall we say “forceful” message about is somehow being my choice to “put my foot down” & cancel the current tour I’m in. Unfortunately I, like many people, irrespective of my opinion have a) a contract and a boss who’s [sic] 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 & 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 and 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.’

Manford is starring in Curtains

The dad-of-six concluded: ‘So 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.’

Many fans praised Manford for carrying on during the pandemic and supporting those who would financially suffer if the show were cancelled, including Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre, which tweeted: ‘Thank you – we look forward to seeing you and the cast, band, crew, wardrobe team, stage management team and the countless people involved with @MusicalCurtains tomorrow.’

However, others branded the comedian ‘irresponsible’, claiming the show continuing could lead to more people being infected.

One person wrote: ‘I can understand why you’d want to wait until told/forced. Not least insurance. But we are 10-14 days behind Italy. It’s just maths. Or we will be if we carry on as normal. By this point they’d already locked down’, with Jason responding: ‘Yeah and if I was Prime Minister I’d do the right thing, but I’m not, so your comment was silly.’

Another irate follower tweeted: ‘Selfish and irresponsible. If one person has Corona and infects people are your show then your DIRECTLY responsible. I thought you were better than this!! [sic]’ – with Jason replying: ‘Sure sure…jog on b****nd.’

The 8 Out Of 10 cats star also tweeted a story about his refusal to cancel, and wrote: ‘“Extra, extra: person is legally obliged to work until told not to do so…read all about it!” Face with tears of joy #WorldsGoneNuts #NotNews #ClickBate [sic].’

However, it seemed the criticism was getting too much, with the comedian today tweeting: ‘Right gonna turn this off today as it’s getting me down. I didn’t mean to upset anyone, I’m just trying to do my job & entertain folks. l’m not an expert on pandemics, so I’m going off the national advice as and when it comes. Like most of us. See you later Leicester. Stay safe.’

Curtains also stars Carley Stenson, while Strictly winner Ore Oduba is set to rejoin the tour in Wolverhampton on 31 March.

So far in the UK, 1,372 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus, while 35 deaths have been confirmed.

While sporting events like the Premier League and the London marathon have been put on hold, the government has not yet called for an end to live gatherings like theatre dates or the closure of pubs, like in Ireland.

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