Live indoor and outdoor events set to return in Scotland from May under route map out of lockdown

Live events are set to return in Scotland from the middle of May under the country’s new route map out of lockdown.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 2:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 6:15 pm

Cinemas, concert halls, theatres and comedy clubs will be able to open on a limited basis from 17 May and are expected to be allowed greater audience numbers in during June.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said capacity limits on venues and events would be discussed with industry leaders over the next few weeks.

However she said she was “optimistic” about people being able to return to nightclubs “over the summer.”

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Today’s announcement mirrors the return of events in England, which are also due to resume with capacity restrictions on 17 May.

However Ms Sturgeon stopped short of declaring a provisional date for the ending of social distancing restrictions, as the Prime Minister has suggested will happen south of the border on 21 June.

Museums and galleries, will be allowed to open from 26 April, several weeks earlier than envisaged in England.

Geoff Ellis, chief executive of DF Concerts, Scotland s biggest concert promoter, said: “We can take some hope for the summer from a more positive and more detailed announcement from the First Minister.

Leith Theatre during the Edinburgh International Festival. Picture: David Wilkinson
Leith Theatre during the Edinburgh International Festival. Picture: David Wilkinson

“But there is not enough there yet to finalise plans for early to mid-summer for live entertainment, which requires there to be no physical distancing to be viable.

“We asked for hope, confidence and clarity and we’ve been given some, a bit more confidence and some clarity on the interim stages.

"But the next announcement will be critically important for the events industry.

“As we all hoped and expected, there is now confirmation that the vaccines prevent further transmission and the vaccine roll out continues to be efficient and effective so that is all positive news.

Outdoor concerts are planned for Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh this August. Picture: Ryan Johnston

“It was very significant that all travel restrictions in mainland Scotland are planned to be lifted on 26 April which is essential for events once they are permitted, albeit at a later date.

“There is some cautious optimism but, importantly, nothing in what the First Minister said to say that Scotland will be too out of step with England regarding the lifting of all restrictions.”

Glasgow-based promoter and nightclub owner Donald MacLeod said: “I’m slightly more encouraged than I have been after the First Minister’s announcements of late.

“Whether anyone can afford to open and trade viably under some pretty exacting restrictions remains to be seen.

"I’m encouraged events, gigs and nightclubs got a mention but it was all a bit vague. Unlike in England, there are no indicative dates of reopening without restrictions and no promise of financial support to help us survive over the summer.

"In the meantime England is gearing up to be fully opened by end of June with their hospitality, tourism, night time economy and live music festivals sectors set to generate billions for the economy.”

Paul Bush, chief executive of government agency EventScotland said: “The latest update from the First Minister is welcome news.

“It provides optimism for Scotland's events sector with the potential return of small-scale indoor and outdoor events from 17 May, subject to agreement on attendance numbers.

"We look forward to continuing to work with ministers, the government and the event industry advisory group on the ongoing development of plans and attendance numbers for the return of events in Scotland."

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