Jason Leitch suggests outdoor events will return first in Scotland when restrictions are eased

Outdoor events are set to be given the green light in Scotland before indoor events under the country's plans to emerge from lockdown restrictions.

Sunday, 7th March 2021, 12:35 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th March 2021, 12:39 pm
Tickets for the Edinburgh Summer Sessions concerts are already on sale. Picture: Ryan Johnston

National clinical director Jason Leitch has revealed that venues like Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow could be among the first to host shows again this summer.

He also suggested that larger capacity venues like the SSE Hydro would be allowed to stage events before smaller venues like King Tut's and the Barrowland Ballroom.

Professor Leitch's comments will offer hope that outdoor events will be given the green in time for the Edinburgh Festival season this summer.

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Talks are ongoing between the city council and event organisers over the creation of several temporary outdoor venues to ensure the city is able to host major events this summer if restrictions are eased.

Festival and organisers are hoping to hear details of how the live events industry will be allowed to reboot over the summer when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon updates Holyrood on plans to lift lockdown restrictions in mid-March.

Under Boris Johnson’s proposed timetable south of the border, outdoor events would be allowed to resume with a limited capacity, while social distancing is due to be lifted in June.

Tickets are already on sale for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and concerts by Olly Murs at Edinburgh Castle esplanade in July and August.

Sir Tom Jones, Travis, DMA’s, Michael Kiwanuka, Lionel Richie and Simple Minds at the castle esplanade and Princes Street Gardens in August.

Van Morrison, Primal Scream, Suzanne Vega, King Creosote, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Belinda Carlisle, Altered Images and Edwyn Collins are due to appear at Kelvingrove Bandstand in July and August.

Other festivals hoping to go ahead in some form include the Doune the Rabbit Hole in Stirlingshire and HebCelt in Stornoway in July, and Fringe by the Sea in North Berwick and Belladrum near Inverness in August.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Off the all programme, Professor Leitch was asked by Mogwai guitarist Stuart Braithwaite about how live events were likely to be brought back.

Professor Leitch said: “If we can we will start outdoors rather than indoors.

"Then we will start with capacity being an issue.

“King Tut’s for example, has a lack of ventilation, is a bit small and contained. That feels to me more risky to me than the Hydro.

“That big space where you could have fewer people in the big space is probably safer than squeezing into the Barrowlands or King Tut’s.

“I think it will be a balance between those two things.

“It will depend on the capacity of the venue, outdoors better than indoors, so I would have thought you might get the Kelvingrove Bandstand before King Tut’s, and then it will be about trying to do that safely.

“The key is incidence. If incidence is down then we will be able to get those back quicker.”

Only a handful of live events have been staged in Scotland since restrictions were first imposed by the government nearly a year ago. Some indoor events were allowed to be held in the Highlands and Islands over the autumn and winter before restrictions were tightened again.

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