Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice to organisers on mass events

Published: 15 Mar 2020

To protect the capacity of our public services, the Scottish Government advises that organisers should cancel or postpone all mass events of 500 people or more – indoors or outdoors.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice to organisers on mass events
Answers to questions

What kind of events does this announcement cover?

We advise that, with effect from 16 March 2020, mass events should not take place.

The definition of a mass event for the purpose of this advice is any event with more than 500 attendees.

We expect all organisations and bodies in Scotland to operate responsibly in this unprecedented situation, and to take appropriate action in response to this advice.

What about smaller events?

Where an event involves relatively small numbers, but is likely to have a potential impact on emergency services, organisers should consider it on its merits, alongside current health advice.

How does this relate to the clinical advice?

The current clinical advice is that cancelling events will not significantly delay the spread of the virus. 

This advice on the cancellation of mass events is being made on the basis of protecting our services’ capacity to deliver essential services.

Why is this being done in Scotland and not in the rest of UK?

We are working closely and in collaboration with the UK Government in our work to contain and manage the COVID-19 outbreak.

Decisions about the resilience of public services in Scotland are a matter for the Scottish Government.  We are taking this view to protect Scottish services ability to protect us.

What does this mean for other large gatherings e.g. public transport, educational settings, workplaces, shopping centres and public spaces?

There is no change to the clinical and scientific advice.

What does this mean for Scotland as a tourist destination? 

This pandemic affects us all. As a responsible government, we need to do everything in our power to free up resources to tackle this outbreak.  

Visitors are welcome and no doubt will understand that we are doing everything we can to keep them and the people of Scotland safe.

Are events being cancelled entirely, or just postponed?  

This will be for organisers to consider on a case-by-case basis.

What about the cost impact on organisers of cancellations?

This is a matter for individual organisers and insurers. Event organisers with concerns about the immediate impact on their business may find it helpful to contact the COVID-19 business helpline.  

Will attendees be able to get refunds for cancelled events?

This is a matter for event organisers.

What does this mean for major events later in the year?  Will COP26 be affected?

There is currently no impact on COP26. The work to plan and deliver this event is continuing as planned.