Live music returns in Scotland as 100 capacity gigs get green light in low infection areas
Inverness and Stornoway are expected to host some of the first indoor gigs this month - ending a long hiatus triggered when the country's live events sector was put into total shutdown in March.
Venues in Level One areas are now allowed to stage shows as long as crowds are seated, strict social distancing is enforced, and track and trace measures in place.
This effectively gives the green light to the return of small-scale gigs in venues across Shetland, Orkney, Moray the Western Isles and the Highlands, who are all deemed to have the lowest infection rates in Scotland at the moment.
Some venues will be able to stage shows with a capacity of up to 250 if they are able to accommodate two metre social distancing if the area they are in moves up to Level One.
Among the first gigs to go ahead will be a show by folk-rock group Torridon this Saturday at the Ironworks, an Inverness venue which has two other shows lined up over the next few weeks.
Lewis singer-songwriter Colin MacLeod is due to play two show at the An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway next week.
New guidance published by the Scottish Government states: “Performing arts venues are permitted to open where audience members have allocated seats (either physical seats or marked areas of the ground within which households must sit) and with restricted numbers, two metre physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.
“Capacity should be calculated based on ensuring two metre physical distancing up to a limit of 100. Discussions on restricted numbers should take place between the local authority and venue.
“Matters such as ventilation system, pinch points, transport, performance type, local circumstances and length of performance should be taken into account to determine appropriate number for the event which might be below the upper limit of 100.”
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said the pandemic had had a devastating impact on Scotland’s live music industry.
She added: “Restrictions have undoubtedly saved lives, but it has been hard to bear for fans who cannot see their favourite artists live, and for people who have been unable to meet their friends to make music together.
“The one thing that will help the industry most is to look at recovery and how artists will be able to perform. Our strategic framework allows music venues to open in Level 0 and Level 1.
“We’ve got to be careful, particularly at this stage, and we’ve published guidance that restricts indoor venues to a maximum of 100 people in an allocated seating area.
“Some venues in Level 1 areas are making plans to open, which will be of great interest and we are keen to see how those concerts go.
“I appreciate the sacrifices many musicians are making at this time. Music is a central part of Scotland’s life, we recognise that in the support we have provided, and I’m determined the voices of musicians and the music they play will be heard throughout venues in Scotland and we will come through this with a vibrant music scene.”