THE COVID-19 pandemic has now claimed Ireland's Christmas pantomimes.
The Everyman Palace in Cork confirmed that it has cancelled its planned 'Aladdin' panto which had been scheduled to run from November into January 2021.
Theatre executive director Sean Kelly said they were left with no alternative because of social distancing measures and the reduced capacity for indoor venues.
The move is now expected to spark a flood of cancellations of other traditional Christmas pantos around Ireland - as well as major plays, operas and indoor events planned for the winter season.
Everyman officials said it would be "unrealistic" to attempt to stage a major panto run given social distancing controls and a maximum capacity of around 85 patrons, staff and actors.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the cancellation of our 2020 pantomime," he said.
"This is the first time in three decades that there won’t be a panto on The Everyman stage at Christmas."
"We really wish we didn’t have to disappoint our audiences like this but panto is an extremely expensive undertaking and under the current restrictions it is simply not possible to go ahead."
"The panto represents 20pc of the theatre’s annual income and is also a vital source of employment for local performers and creatives so it’s a huge blow to a great many people. We are determined that our panto will return in 2021 and be more spectacular than ever.”
The Everyman Palace - like other Irish theatres - uses its money-spinning panto to help fund other major arts projects over the year.
One arts official warned that the revenue lost by Irish theatres from the cancelled pantos will have "far reaching consequences."
The Everyman annually has almost 35,000 fans attend its three month panto run - with even bigger audience figures boasted by Cork Opera House and The Gaiety in Dublin.
Almost 100 people are employed by the Everyman for their panto run.
“Panto is a tradition that is central to many people’s Christmas plans, and it’s a tradition we take great pride in upholding at The Everyman," artistic director Julie Kelleher said.
"It is joyful, comforting, and entertaining, which is everything you need at the darkest time of the year. It’s a source of huge disappointment to us, and the small army of cast, crew, and creatives that make the show every year, not to be able to provide that for families this year.”