Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): events sector guidance

Guide for the events sector on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): events sector guidance


We recognise the severe impact that the COVID-19 restrictions are having on the events sector. We are grateful for the work that the sector has undertaken to respond to the crisis and in preparation for reopening.  We understand the frustration and concern in the sector and look forward to the return of events across the country.

Physical distancing has been an important tool for controlling the virus but, as with all restrictions, we do not want to keep it in place longer than is absolutely necessary. As the First Minister announced on 11 May, we are currently reviewing physical distancing, taking account of available and emerging evidence, including the ongoing rollout of the vaccination programme. Events will be considered as part of this review. This guidance will be further updated to reflect the outcome of the review.

This guidance is for the events sector – in particular organisers of events. It will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis in line with Scotland's Strategic Framework (updated February 2021)

This updated Strategic Framework sets out how we plan to restore, in a phased way, greater normality to our everyday lives.  It updates the original Strategic Framework to take account of important developments, including:

  • new and highly infectious strains of the virus
  • progress with the vaccination roll-out

Our strategic intent remains to: suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible. The Framework explains how we will use all of the tools we have available to get coronavirus to the lowest possible level and keep it there.

Levels for each local authority area will be kept under review. See the information for your area.

The events sector is diverse, consisting of a range of small, medium and large businesses, many of which will also provide services for other sectors such as cultural, community, sporting and business activities. This guidance may therefore be read alongside similar Scottish Government guidance prepared specifically for other sectors.

We want a strong events sector to help drive Scotland's economic recovery and future prosperity. Event organisers should therefore use this guidance to look forward and engage with trade union or workforce representatives early in their plans for restart to develop workplace specific plans for a managed transition away from current restrictions, allowing sufficient time for that joint work. And while those plans should be fully developed, with measures put in place and tested where possible, events should not take place until the local authority area that they are in is in the appropriate level.

The Scottish Government is keen to build confidence and create the right environment for supporting safer work as we continue to live with COVID-19.

We have worked with employers, trade unions, local authorities and representatives from across the events sector to ensure this guidance is evidence-based, fair and ethical, clear and realistic. We welcome the extensive work that trade bodies, industry groups and individual businesses have already done to plan ahead for safe workplaces through practical measures and draft guidelines aimed at ensuring the safety of workforce and the public is at the centre of operational plans for re-starting the sector. As each event is different, it is for individual businesses to work with trade union or workforce representatives to determine how best to apply this guidance in their circumstances.

To help you decide which actions to take, you need to carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other health and safety related hazards. The checklist in this guidance should provide you with a good starting place. The key areas which you need to consider are outlined in each of the sections.

To stay safe, to protect others and to save lives organisers, employees and attendees should also remember the FACTS:

  • Face coverings in enclosed spaces
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Clean your hands and surfaces regularly
  • Two-metre social distancing
  • Self-isolate and book a test if you develop coronavirus symptoms  

This guide is underpinned by a spirit of collaborative working between event organisers and their workforce. Throughout the guidance the terms event organisers and trade union or workforce representatives are used in that context, recognising that companies have a legal responsibility to maintain workplace health and safety and must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there is not one, a representative chosen by workers. Companies cannot decide who the workforce representative will be. A definition of workforce is provided in the definitions section.


This publication is designed to provide general guidance for event organisers in supporting the restart of their businesses, with a particular focus on the workforce and workplace, in order to help events restart safely at the appropriate time. It is intended to provide advice on measures that need to be considered for COVID-19 only and is not intended to be an overall event guide. It does not constitute legal advice.

This guidance may be supplemented by specific industry, governing body or other guidance, depending on the type of event involved, for example, The Purple Guide aims to help those event organisers who are duty holders to manage health and safety, particularly at large-scale music and similar events. Event organisers will need to take into account the advice of any Safety Advisory Group that exists in their local authority area, along with normal licencing or any other requirements to host an event.

Many events are dependent on other sectors and public services. They often involve travel, either locally or internationally (where there may be quarantine requirements for people entering the UK), and the use of private or public transport. Event organisers will want to take into account any restrictions on travel and pressures on accommodation  when planning an event.

Some events may require Police Scotland and relevant medical cover so organisers need to check whether this cover can be provided, or whether they need to commission private services. Some events will involve preparation of food where guidance is available: read Food Standard Scotland Guidance on food preparation.

We are working with the UK Government to align our approach and guidance, where possible and on the basis of scientific evidence on the levels of infection in Scotland. This guidance is intended to work alongside UK Government guidance and aims to assist employers, businesses and their workforce ensure a safe working environment and readers will recognise consistent themes within this guidance with the UK Government’s  Working Safely during COVID-19 publications.

Links to relevant guidance are included throughout and at the end of this publication.

In addition to event organisers, who are the intended audience for this guidance, we recognise that it will also be of interest to businesses working in the events supply chain, participants or delegates at events, land owners, communities where an event is being held, and the general public.

Fair Work

As Scotland continues to deal with the impact of coronavirus, organisations including the Institute of Directors (IoD), SCDI, STUC, COSLA and SCVO have signed a fair work statement underlining the collaborative approach needed between employers, unions and workers to ensure workplaces can operate safely.

First published: 3 Dec 2020 Last updated: 26 May 2021 -