Event professionals across Scotland have warned of a critical juncture in the recovery of the country’s sector as there remains no indication of when large gatherings will return and when social distancing will be removed.

While restrictions on retail and leisure have been lifted in Scotland, events professionals have claimed the  sector is unable to plan ahead.

The Scottish Government decided not to work with the UK Government’s reopening plan or levels framework and instead create its own policy structure.

At the end of April, Rewind Festival (cap. 30,000) at Scone Palace, near Perth, was cancelled, with organisers blaming current guidance and lack of clarity as to when social distancing would be removed. England’s Rewind North (20,000) at Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire and the Rewind South (40,000) at Temple Island Meadows, Buckinghamshire, are both set to go ahead as planned. Last week the Enchanted Forest event in Perthshire, scheduled for October 2021, was also cancelled.

Following the latest Scottish Government announcement on May 11, 21CC Group director and member of the Event Industry Advisory Group (EIAG) Geoff Crow (pictured) said the events sector in Scotland is at a “standstill” and needs “consistency and clarity”.

He said, “It doesn’t seem logical that gatherings and events can go ahead in England from July, but in Scotland we have no dates to be able to do the same.”

Crow added, “From our understanding, there is yet to be a proven case of transmission of Covid-19 as a result of outdoor activity, so we need to know what the current framework is based on in order to be able to understand it.

“As we rise out of Covid as a nation and particularly with the rollout of the vaccination across the country, we need the Scottish Government to take cognisance of the findings from these pilot events, to balance caution with optimism and create policies that consider health, society and the economy. Sadly, for some, any change now is already too late.”

He added, “We need the Scottish Government to urgently set a date for the removal of social distancing, or offer support in the event of cancellation, because socially, economically, and according to the economists, the event sector is well worth saving.”

Scottish Event Campus (SEC) chief executive and EIAG chair Peter Duthie said, “While recognising that no certainty can be provided, an understanding of how the Government’s data-driven approach to the lifting of restrictions will operate is crucial for forward planning and decision making in the sector.

“Compared to most industries, the events sector requires much longer lead times to resume activity given the extensive planning involved.

“A consistent approach across the four nations is also required to ensure that events in Scotland are not disadvantaged. We hope to see more detail and clarity on this very soon, albeit we recognise that any roadmap would understandably have to feature significant caveats if the situation were to change.”