NATIONWIDE – Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based entertainment company, has temporarily laid off almost all of its staff worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Cirque du Soleil lays off nearly all of its staff
  • The company cut 95 percent of its workforce Thursday
  • Shows, including Drawn to Life at Disney Springs, have been suspended

The company on Thursday said it cut more than 4,000 workers, about 95 percent of its workforce. Cirque du Soleil is only keeping a "core support team" for the time being to maintain basic operations.

"It is the most difficult day in Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group history," Cirque du Soleil president and CEO Daniel Lamarre said in a statement. "We're deeply saddened by the dramatic measures taken today, as the temporary layoff includes many hardworking, dedicated people. Unfortunately, this decision is our only option as we are forced to position ourselves to weather this storm and prepare for eventual reopenings."

The company is working to provide support to workers who were laid off, including paid vacation time and insurance coverage.

Earlier this month, Cirque du Soleil temporarily suspended its shows in Las Vegas as well as touring productions.

Drawn to Life, the company's new show at Disney Springs, was also suspended. The show was set to begin preview performances this week.

Cirque du Soleil plans to begin rehiring as soon as productions are allowed to resume.