Edinburgh Festival: It's not quite the time for Chamber of Commerce chief to talk about city as 'world’s culture capital for August' – Helen Martin

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The Festival Fringe has been given the thumbs up to plan for its acts and companies to come and perform from August 6 to 30 – with social distancing.

It’s possible distancing might be reduced a bit by then but, in large indoor venues, 400 will be allowed to attend, with a couple of thousand in outdoor locations.

The crucial aspect is that all the Fringe organisers and employees are going to have to comply with any health and safety restrictions.

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It’s not quite the moment for Liz McAreavey, the chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce to say that festivals “ensure Edinburgh is the world’s culture capital for the month of August every year, attracting enormous international interest and attention”.

That may well be true again at some point in the future, but this year the Fringe is very reduced. Covid-19 isn’t going to be wiped out globally in 2021.

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If we do have international visitors along with locals, Fringe staff will have to explain and enforce any of Scotland’s remaining Covid rules. That can also include the English who usually operate under different regulations, but who knows come August?

We cannot have thousands of maskless tourists having mass gatherings in the Royal Mile and we have to hope summer, tourism and the Fringe doesn’t result in another viral surge.

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe is set to return, but in a reduced form (Picture: David Cheskin/PA)Edinburgh Festival Fringe is set to return, but in a reduced form (Picture: David Cheskin/PA)
Edinburgh Festival Fringe is set to return, but in a reduced form (Picture: David Cheskin/PA)

If it all works well at a reduced level, we can all be proud of the Fringe, and hope their future plans include local culture and entertainment all around the city, not just confined to the centre.

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