The Scottish Government has reacted cautiously to ambitious plans to reopen live gigs by the country’s biggest events company.
Geoff Ellis and DF Concerts put together a blueprint to stage live shows that involves securing a superfast, highly accurate and affordable coronavirus test.
A pilot gig is expected to take place in eastern Europe in December - but the Scottish Government has issued a statement that may dampen the enthusiasm felt by music lovers after the revelations in the Record on Saturday.
The Scottish Government claims testing is only accurate at the exact point of the test being taken and that symptoms may develop a day or two later. This means there is not the 100 per cent confidence needed for full capacity in venues and no social distancing.
But officials have stressed that they are considering all developments in testing as they emerge.
A spokesman said: “Culture is vitally important to all of our lives, and the Scottish Government is determined to do everything within our powers to see the sector through this crisis.
“We want to lift restrictions as soon as possible and see venues and the events sector thriving again however, physical distancing is expected to remain central to reducing the risk of transmission at events.
Geoff Ellis said he was encouraged that the Scottish Government said it would consider developments elsewhere.
But he was adamant that no system involving human interaction can be risk free and that some compromise must be allowed to enable people to lead more normal lives.
He said: “Going forward, in the coming months rather than days, Scotland cannot and should not take a position that the only test that can be considered is a gold standard one. Especially once the vulnerable have been vaccinated.
“That becomes the game changer in terms of impact of COVID 19.
“We have to start to consider everyone’s health and not just around COVID. We are facing a very real mental Health crisis. Mental health services Were overwhelmed pre-COVID and I really worry for the mental health of a whole generation of young people.
“We shouldn’t be reckless about this nor rush into things without proper analysis but we do need to make plans as a country for moving forward, for minimising risk and adapting to this terrible virus.”
“To only consider risk free solutions is not sustainable. A vaccine isn’t risk free.”
“At present testing alone is not considered to be sufficient to reduce the risk of transmission so that physical distancing can be removed.
“We will continue to keep developments in testing technology under review in the event that this position changes and continue to learn from approaches in other countries.
“We’ve set up significant funding packages and have worked closely and constructively with the live music sector, including through the Events Industry Advisory Group, and we are considering how live music and events can begin to operate safely, including the role of pilot events.
“We see on a daily basis the devastating impact resurgences of the virus can have – by taking tough but necessary action now we hope to avoid even tougher action in future.”
The Record told on Saturday how Ellis hopes a £4 test can be bonded to a mobile phone app and a concert ticket, with a maximum validity period of a few days.
He said that the vast majority of people who would take up the opportunity to attend gigs would be from groups that are unlikely to be seriously affected by Covid-19.