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Pressure raised

Pubs and music festivals call for shift in Covid plan


Pubs are sceptical over ‘data-driven’ policy

Scotland’s pubs, restaurants and music festivals are demanding an easing of Covid restrictions by the new Government to bring the country into line with England to avoid more closures.

Hospitality businesses say Scotland’s recovery will be held back if the incoming Holyrood Government continues with the current restrictions.

A group of music festivals have sent a joint letter to the Scottish Government amid warnings that many will not survive.

While test events are taking place to allow crowds in England, they say current conditions in Scotland would effectively mean the immediate cancellation of most if not all major music festivals north of the border this year.

Pubs and restaurants represented by the Scottish Hospitality Group question if the government really is pursuing its so-called strategy of ‘data not dates’. 


Even with the scheduled easing of restrictions, the SHG predicts that fewer than half of Scotland’s pubs, restaurants and hotels will be open and trading viably once indoor drinking is allowed.

It is also concerned about more progressive changes in England from the end of June.

The SHG is calling on the new Scottish Government to ensure alignment with England to avoid deterring customers who are planning a staycation in Scotland and to bring forward changes to the levels system in line with the huge decrease in hospital cases and deaths. 

Spokesman Stephen Montgomery said Nicola Sturgeon repeatedly claimed that the Scottish government was driven by data not dates.

“Well, the data that really matters – which is how much impact Covid-19 is having on people’s health – could hardly be better and seems to be going in just one direction,” he said.

Music Festivals issue warning

Scotland’s major music festivals have sent a joint letter to the Scottish Government to request support and clarity for their events.

They say there had been a growing sense of optimism within the industry – fuelled by crowds being allowed in Hampden for the Euro football tournament – that 18 months of not being able to work would come to an end later this summer.

Festival organisers were also encouraged by the outdoor music test event in Liverpool on 2 May.

“So the recently published guidance regarding the different tiers came as a huge disappointment when we read that music festivals could not (viably) take place, even in Level Zero.”

The Scottish roadmap states that a maximum number of 1,000 socially distanced free standing spectators could be allowed at an outdoor event / festival in Level 0. 

mono cyclist Edinburgh Festival

Festivals want greater clarity (pic: Terry Murden)

“Those conditions would effectively mean the immediate cancellation of most if not all major music festivals in Scotland this year,” says the group.

The popular Rewind Festival in Perth as well as the Summer Nights series of concerts at Kelvingrove bandstand in Glasgow are the latest to be cancelled this summer. Tartan Heart in Belladrum, Hebcelt, Bute Fest, Kelburn Garden Party, Tyree Music Festival, Midstock, Castle Concerts in Edinburgh and many others have already been cancelled.

“There is a real danger that for a second year running, Scotland’s music festivals will be completely wiped out,” they warn.

“Our industry is already witnessing casualties. While many festival promoters may be able to carry on for one more year, we are seeing parts of the supply chain disappear.

“Suppliers going into liquidation, freelancers retraining and looking elsewhere for employment. We are genuinely concerned that there may not be the support and supply chain in place to allow festivals to return in 2022. 

“We appreciate how incredibly difficult this pandemic has been and the work put in to keeping us safe. We also recognise that many sectors of the economy are asking to be first in the queue. We recognise that we will be one of the last sectors to emerge from this but we won’t be able to do so without further clarity and support.”   

The letter is signed by:

Rewind Festival

Kelburn Garden Party

Knockengorroch Festival

Eden Festival

Mugstock Festival

Party at The Palace

Party at The Park

Vibration Festival

Midstock Festival

Doune The Rabbit Hole

Donald McLeod MBE

Paul Reed – Association of Independent Festivals

Tom Clements – National Outdoor Events Association

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