Artists and performers must not face an agonising wait to return again - Brian Ferguson

When I closed my laptop the week before Christmas I was resigned to the fact that my world would look a lot different when I reopened it a fortnight later.

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 4:55 am

The Omicrom mood music was an increasingly grim festive soundtrack as I counted down hours and days before a much-needed break.

From the moment Public Health Scotland effectively urged people to pull the plug on their Christmas celebrations the writing was on the wall for almost all forms of live entertainment.

It took nearly a fortnight fo Nicola Sturgeon to bring the curtain down on hundreds of festive shows and events, but by then the shutdown was all but inevitable given that people were already being urged to “stay at home” as much as possible.

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Madeline Squire is one of the dancers playing the magician Drosselmeyer in Scottish Ballet's production of The Nutcracker, which was staged at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh before Christmas. Picture: Andy Ross

In truth, after a flurry of events in early December, including The Nutcracker and the King’s Theatre panto in Edinburgh, I bunkered down to try to reduce the risk of a Christmas trip to the Hebrides being scuppered by Covid.

Long walks on deserted beaches offering time and space to ponder what the new year will bring.

But instead of optimism about a fresh start, it was hard to avoid comparisons with the start of 2021, when the prospect of any kind of “normality” resuming was a distant dream.

In reality, it was not until last September that venues and events were able to return properly, much longer than anyone could have anticipated, which made it all the more painful for so many for the plug to be pulled in December.

Only the most optimistic folk would expect the current restrictions on events – including a 200-capacity limit on indoor events one metre physical distancing – to be lifted completely after 17 January, the earliest date set out by the Scottish Government.

But the huge success of the booster campaign and the relatively smooth introduction of vaccine passports in some settings offers real optmism that the return of audiences in meaningful sizes will be much swifter.

Given that Scotland’s bars, restaurants and shopping centres were allowed to remain open over the festive period, it has to be hoped that artists and performers will not face an agonising wait to get back to what they do best.