Vaccine passports could help bring back Scotland's live events without social distancing, industry leader reveals

Vaccine passports could revive live entertainment in Scotland without the need for social distancing, the Scottish Government's own industry expert has revealed.

Paul Bush said there was "no doubt" vaccine passports could help bring back events which could not operate viably if they had to impose physical distancing and restricted crowd numbers.

Mr Bush, chief executive of government agency EventScotland, said he was sure the results UK Government trials of “Covid-status certification” at pilot events in England from this month would “prove to be a great tool for Scotland’s events industry.”

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Mr Bush insisted there was "increasing confidence with each week that passes" about the return of events this summer, suggesting that the green light for the European Championship matches in Glasgow was “an indication of the likelihood for further high-profile events acting as a gateway for the return of the sector.”

But he admitted it was "critical" for the entire events industry to get clear guidance as soon as possible.

Venue operators at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe have warned they are running out of time to programme shows for this year’s event, while Butefest has become the latest music festival to pull the plug on staging an event this summer.

However many venues, festivals and events are hoping to go return from May.

Writing on social media, Mr Bush said: “There is no doubt there is a pent-up demand for events to return and, as we’ve recently seen in England, I’d expect tickets to quickly sell out should events be permitted.

Leith Theatre has been used regularly for live events and festivals in recent years.

“But what will the summer look like for events in Scotland? Whilst there is still caution and pragmatism in abundance, the mood music is more positive than it was even a few weeks ago and I sense increasing confidence with each week that passes.

“To ensure we have a positive summer for events in Scotland it’s now critical that the industry receives additional guidance and information as soon as possible.

"We know events cannot viably operate with physical distancing or restricted numbers in place but what does the future hold for required hygiene practices, staggered ingress and egress, face coverings or even a vaccine passport?

"While concerns still remain for some about the prospect of vaccine passports, there’s no doubt they could offer a quicker way back for events.”

A man presents his "green passport," proof that he is vaccinated against the coronavirus at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem, Israel. Picture: AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

The Scottish Government has confirmed that the introduction of vaccine passports is being considered, but cautioned that the idea raises significant “ethical and equality” questions.

Asked at the weekend about their possible use at events later in the year, national clinical director Jason Leitch told the BBC: “There are some trials and tests and that seem to be the right way to go. There's talk about Covid certification for the World Snooker Championships and the FA Cup Final, and we’ll use those as a four country basis for thinking: ‘Can this work? Can that bit work?’

“I think where we’ll move to in the next few weeks and months is we’ll go back to a process where we have to start to get fans and crowds back into a number of entertainment venues - stadia, theatres cinemas.

“We’ll do that gradually, we’ll do that experimentally initially. We now know one of the aims is 25 per cent at the Euros, so we’ve got something to aim for.”

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