Scottish Government tightens rules on live events ahead of ‘reopening’ of venues

Large-scale crowds will be banned at cultural events in Scotland for another six weeks.

By Brian Ferguson
Sunday, 16th May 2021, 4:45 pm

The rules were tightened days before the official reopening date for the events industry in Scotland – the run-up to which has been marred by protests that strict two metre distancing rules will prevent most venues from reopening.

The new government guidelines also make it clear live entertainment is banned in all hospitality areas where food and drink is being served, such as in hotels, pubs or beer gardens.

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The new rules state audience numbers will be pegged at up to 200 for all indoor events and 1,000 for outdoor events planned in Scotland until the end of June, when the numbers may be increased to 400 and 2,000 respectively, if the easing of wider restrictions to “level zero” remains on track.

However, there are still no details of what size of crowds will be permitted from July onwards, when large-scale festivals and events are still planned to go ahead.

In England, event organisers have been told they can have up to 1,000 people at indoor events at half-capacity, 4,000 people at outdoor events at half-capacity and up to 10,000 at major stadia, at 25 per cent of their normal capacity.

Scottish event organisers were previously told they could seek special permission from councils or the government for larger events able to accommodate social distancing.

The Festival Theatre in Edinburgh has a normal capacity of 1915.

However, under the new rules, Scottish councils are urged not to approve any larger events due to be staged before the end of June.

The government has also made it clear that exemptions on the 2m rule will not be permitted while a review of distancing restrictions is ongoing.

The events industry has been promised the results will be published before the next review of Scotland’s lockdown restrictions early next month.

The new guidelines state: "We hope to facilitate the events sector safely reopening from May 17 on a limited basis.

Andy Arnold, artistic director at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, has led criticism of the Scottish Government's 'reopening' rules. Picture: John Johnston

"This is while balancing the risks which remain as we move towards further restrictions being lifted more generally.

“Event organisers and venues will not be able to seek permission for physical distancing measures to be reduced.

“We recommend local authorities only approve events that will take place prior to June 28, up to the level zero standard capacity limits providing physical distancing can be maintained.

“Applications may also be submitted for larger events with numbers exceeding the level zero standard capacity. We recommend they should only be approved if they are intended to be held from June 28 onwards.

"As further evidence of the impact of events on the pandemic becomes available, we intend to provide further information – on or before June 7 – about how the events sector will be able to operate after the move to level zero.”A government spokeswoman said: “We are reviewing physical distancing and an announcement of the outcome is due ahead of the planned move to level one on June 7.

“Physical distancing has been an important tool for controlling the virus, but we will only have this in place as long as is necessary.”

Andy Arnold, artistic director at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, said: “Capacity limits are meaningless to an estimated 95 per cent of Scottish venues, who will stay shut with the 2m restriction in place.”

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