Scotland's biggest events firm is seeking to spearhead a quick Covid testing strategy that could get live gigs up and running again by next spring.
DF Concerts is in advanced talks with an eastern European country to stage an event for 1000 gig-goers.
Boss Geoff Ellis, the man behind T in the Park and TRNSMT music festival, has brokered a deal that has been passed by the country’s equivalent of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and now only needs the rubber stamp of the Government’s ethics committee.
Ellis also met Scotland’s deputy clinical director John Harden on Wednesday to outline details of the pilot project.
He said he has been assured the Scottish Government will carefully consider following suit if the test event is a success.
Ellis told the Record: “We have been working on our full capacity plan, where the audience gets tested before the gig, then the test gets uploaded on to an app, and the app allows the ticket to be validated on the phone.
“We’re keeping close details of the negotiations under wraps but the government we are dealing with is close to signing off on it.
"It would mean people are pre-tested, say 24 to 48 hours before, then temperature tested when they go in – for belt and braces.
“The pilot would be for 1000 people, then those people would be tested after the event. They will perhaps have to quarantine after the event but we are sorting out fine details.
“There is no reason why it won’t work. And if it works for 1000 people, it could be rolled out to 10,000 or to 50,000 people. Then you’re moving towards summer festivals going ahead next year.”
Ellis said the initiative could open up theatres and sport stadiums as well. He added: “You could literally have full capacity at Rangers and Celtic. It wouldn’t be 100 per cent risk-free but neither would a vaccine be. It’s about massively reducing the risk.
“Essentially, testing is the way to get back to normal. Cost is a big thing, because there’s no point in a test that costs 80 quid.
"Neither the venue, the artist or the customer could afford that. But if it’s four quid and validates you for three days, then it might work.”
Ellis admitted: “You can’t get 100 per cent reliability but it’s accepted that shutting down our live music, our theatres, is causing massive damage, mainly to young people.
“We can’t just look at culture through a Covid lens, we have to consider the mental health of young people and the devastating effect on the economy of all this stagnation. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs on the line.”
After his meeting with Harden and Scottish Government officials, Ellis said he was convinced they were genuinely interested in the DF Concerts blueprint.
He said: “I’ve also discussed the plan with Jason Leitch and the Scottish Government is keen to see the results of the pilot. We haven’t booked an act as yet but the gig would take place in December.”
Ellis said he would be prepared to pilot a gig, at DF Concerts’ cost, at a Glasgow venue like King Tut’s or the O2 Academy.
He pointed to China, where some venues holding up to 5000 people are now reportedly able to open at 75 per cent capacity with no social distancing.
Ellis said: “Things are moving fast there, so we shouldn’t be consumed with doom and gloom.
"It’s not going to happen in Scotland tomorrow but if it can happen in March and April that’s great, then we’re back up and running with full capacity outdoors for the summer festivals, then the autumn might see full capacity at the likes of the Hydro.”
Ellis added he is optimistic that a vaccine will be announced early in the New Year.
He said: “There’s a few hundred programmes working on a vaccine worldwide. My hope is that testing can fill the gap in the medium term.”