Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): events sector guidance

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

19 page PDF

653.9 kB

19 page PDF

653.9 kB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): events sector guidance
Where we are now

19 page PDF

653.9 kB

Where we are now

On 23 March 2020, the First Minister announced Scotland would enter into a lockdown. Under law, the restrictions must be reviewed at least every three weeks.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis was published on 21 May 2020. It set out a phased approach to easing the lockdown and our movement through each phase of the recovery.

Inevitably, opening parts of our economy and society has provided new opportunities for the virus to spread and Scotland’s Strategic Framework was published on 23 October 2020, updated on 23 February 2021, setting out how we will work 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 and tackle the four harms we know the virus causes.

This framework sets out the new approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection consisting of four levels above the Route Map Phase 3 baseline (or 'Level 0') as set out below:

Scotland’s Strategic Framework

We are working with Event Scotland to support some of Scotland’s major events to return over summer subject to epidemiological conditions  – we know how important they are to businesses, our culture and wellbeing.

Protection Levels

From 2 November 2020, and as set out in Scotland's Strategic Framework, Scottish Ministers, with expert advice, will apply the following levels to events, nationally and/or locally, in a proportionate way, guided by evidence on the state of the epidemic, and only for as long as necessary.

The application of Level 4 across mainland Scotland took effect from one minute past midnight on 26 December. This is with the exception of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, and the other island communities that moved into level 3, with strict restrictions on who can travel to and from these areas.  

From 5 April 2021:  to minimise the risk of spreading the virus, we must all stay local as much as possible and avoid unnecessary travel. Read what you can and cannot do in your area.

Level 0 (baseline) and Level 1

Within these levels, we would expect to see low incidence of the virus with isolated clusters, and low community transmission. Broadly, these levels are the closest we can get to normality, without a vaccine or effective treatment in place, before conditions will allow us to move to Phase 4 of the Route Map. They would be similar to the measures in place during the summer, once we reached Phase 3. The Baseline and Level 1 are designed to be sustainable for longer periods

Levels 2-3

Within Levels 2 and 3, we would expect to see increased incidence of the virus, with multiple clusters and increased community transmission. There would be a graduated series of protective measures to tackle the virus, focusing on key areas of risk – broadly, indoor settings where household mixing takes place with less, or less well-observed, physical distancing and mitigations. The measures would be intended to be in place for relatively short periods (2 to 4 weeks), and only for as long as required to get prevalence of the virus down to a low, sustainable level.

Level 4

Within this level we would expect to see very high or rapidly increasing incidence, and widespread community transmission which may pose a threat to the capacity of the NHS to cope. It is likely that this level would see the introduction of measures close to a return to full lockdown. Measures would be designed to be in place for a short period, to provide a short, sharp response to quickly suppress the virus.

What level is my event in?

See the protection level information for your area.

The following information within the levels is relevant for live events:

Level 0

  • outdoor events permitted (restricted numbers)
  • indoor events – seated and ambulatory permitted (restricted numbers)
  • indoor grouped standing not permitted
  • stadia – open with restricted numbers
  • other - live events premises open including: theatres, music venues, conference centres, and sports stadia.

Level 1

  • outdoor events seated and open space permitted (restricted numbers)
  • outdoor grouped standing events not permitted
  • small seated indoor events - permitted
  • stadia – open with restricted numbers
  • other - live events premises open including: theatres, music venues, conference centres, and sports stadia.

Level 2

  • events not permitted/closed
  • apart from drive in/drive-thru events which are permitted
  • apart from drive in events which are permitted
  • live events premises closed including: theatres, music venues, conference centres, and sports stadia.
  • stadia closed to spectators

Level 3

  • not permitted/ closed to spectators

Level 4

  • not permitted/ closed to spectators

Protection level for your area

Check the protection level information for your area. You should keep this under review in the run up to the event.


Check latest information on travel, including travel between levels and local authority areas, and consider the impact this could have for your event. Information on the legal restrictions on travel is available at travel guidance.

By law you must not travel out of or into a Level 4 or Level 3 local authority area unless you have a reasonable excuse (see exceptions).

Attendance at a drive-in cinema or other entertainment event is not a reasonable excuse. 

Communications with event attendees

Event attendees are not always aware of restrictions and guidance and how these might have changed. Organisers should make sure their communications with attendees are open and clear so anyone considering buying a ticket is made aware of the risks and restrictions and can make an informed choice about travelling to and attending an event.

Communications with attendees, whether by website, email, social media or through other forms of marketing, should make it easy to find information that sets out what Level the event is currently at on the Scottish Government framework and that travel restrictions apply.

To keep information current, communications with attendees should link to the Coronavirus postcode checker and to travel guidance.


Physical distancing duties are set out in the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (the 2020 Regulations). A person who is responsible for carrying on a business or providing a service must take all reasonable measures:

  • to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons on the premises (except between members of the same household or a carer and the person assisted by the carer)
  • to ensure that they only admit people to its premises in sufficiently small numbers to make it possible to maintain that distance
  • to ensure that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any person waiting to enter the premises (except between members of the same household, or a carer and the person assisted by the carer)

Restrictions on gatherings and exceptions to these are set out in gatherings and occasions part of the coronavirus guidance.

Request process

Lists of premises that must be closed at different levels are included in the 2020 Regulations This includes a number of events venues. 

Scottish Ministers, local authorities, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and health boards may request that premises that are otherwise closed to the public carry out a particular activity. We expect this to be used in a limited number of instances primarily to support activities for the public good – such as operation of NHS Louisa Jordan or as a jury centre. This request process will also be used by the Scottish Ministers to allow pilot events to take place when considered appropriate.

First published: 3 Dec 2020 Last updated: 9 Apr 2021 -