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
Where we are now

Where we are now

Scotland’s Strategic Framework

Protection Levels

Scotland follows a COVID-19 levels system. There are 5 levels (0-4) and each has a different set of rules.

Find out the level and rules for an area using the postcode checker.

Get information on the latest COVID-19 situation

In a statement to Parliament on 22 June, the First Minister gave details of the updated Strategic Framework and the outcome of the review of physical distancing. Both of these publications are relevant for the events sector.

The following levels will be applied 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.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing measures will be slowly eased to enable us to operate in a less restricted way.

All of Scotland will move to Level 0 on 19 July 2021. When areas move down to Level 0, the following changes will apply:

  • physical distancing of 1m in outdoor settings
  • for indoors public spaces, physical distancing requirements will reduce to 1 metre from 2 metres.

Social Mixing

Indoor and outdoor socialising will change to reflect the numbers relevant at Level 0.  Stakeholder have requested clearer guidance on the interplay between physical distancing and social mixing measures.


  • Maximum 10 people from up to 4 households may socialise indoors in a public place
  • Maximum of 8 people from up to 4 households may socialise in a private dwelling

Physical distancing requirements will apply between different households within a social group in indoor public places, however you do not need to physically distance from family and friends in a private dwelling.


  • Maximum of 15 people from up to 15 households. Under 12s do not count towards restricted numbers or households outdoors.

There is no requirement for distancing within the grouping. The physical distancing requirement will apply between different social groups.

Face Coverings

Face coverings continue to be an important part of stopping the spread of coronavirus. You need to wear a face covering in certain public places in Level 0 even if you have been vaccinated, unless an exception applies to you.

You can find more information on face coverings here.

Beyond Level 0 (indicative date 9 August)

We have set out the vaccine milestones we hope to reach over the summer, and the plan to take us out of COVID-19 restrictions. See our proposed timetable for these changes.

Our Strategic Framework update sets out what a move beyond Level 0 may look like. We will ensure that our information is clear and accessible as we enter a period where people need to make personal judgements, rather than rules set by government.

This means everyone playing their part by:

  • maintaining good hand hygiene
  • practising respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • wearing face coverings
  • ensuring there is good ventilation – such as opening windows when indoors
  • continuing to engage with Test and Protect and self-isolate when symptomatic or have tested positive

A move beyond Level 0 will be conditional on all adults over 40 protected with two doses of the vaccination and a review of the epidemic being carried out ahead of the date for that move.

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.

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

Level 0

  • indoors events permitted with a maximum capacity of 400*
  • outdoors seated events permitted with a maximum capacity of 2000*
  • outdoors free-standing events permitted with a maximum capacity of 1000* 

Level 1

  • indoors events permitted with maximum capacity of 200*
  • outdoor seated events permitted with a maximum capacity of 1000*
  • outdoor free-standing events permitted with a maximum capacity of 500* 

Level 2

  • indoors events permitted with maximum capacity of 100*
  • outdoor seated events permitted with a maximum capacity of 500*
  • outdoor free-standing events permitted with a maximum capacity of 250* 

Level 3

  • drive-in events only are permitted

Level 4

  • not permitted/closed

* For venues which can accommodate larger audiences, event planners / venue operators may apply to their local authority for exceptions to the above capacities, however 1 metre physical distancing must remain in place. See separate guidance

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 23) Regulations 2021 puts in place a process through which event organisers or venue operators must, through application to a local authority, seek approval to hold an event above the standard capacity limit. The guidance for local authorities on stadia and events number limits sets out further details about the process to consider higher capacities. We have also published guidance on calculating physical distancing capacity in public settings.

Flagship events

The principal criterion to determine whether an event should enter our flagship events gateway process is that it is internationally significant and aligns with ‘Scotland The Perfect Stage’, or supports our broader policy priorities. Fundamentally, the successful delivery of a small number of flagship events would demonstrate that Scotland is still functioning as a host for world class events.

Flagship events are based on extensive advance planning across multiple organisations. Prior to an event entering this process, confirmation would be required from local partners that they are bought into working on delivery of the event.

Current flagship events are:

  • Edinburgh International Festival
  • British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) Congress
  • Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open
  • AIG Women’s Open


Flagship events that have taken place:

  • UEFA Euro 2020
  • British and Irish Lions v Japan Test Match for the 1888 Cup
  • Anrdn Scottish Open

Any other flagship events will be added to this list once agreed by the Scottish Ministers.

Drive-in events

Drive-in events may take place in level 3 and below and are not subject to the attendance standard event capacities set out above. Organisers should consider the facilities required for attendees such as toilets when calculating their capacity and how any queuing for facilities will be managed to ensure physical distancing is maintained. Face covering requirements (subject to exemptions) will apply in any indoor areas. Organisers should be clear to attendees that only one household (or extended household) may be present in a vehicle. Further information on the sharing of private vehicles and cars.

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 as it may change.


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

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 what travel restrictions, if any, apply.

To keep information current, communications with attendees should link to the Coronavirus postcode checker and to travel guidance. Further details about communications with attendees are included in the checklist list that accompanies this 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).

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 for a jury centre or vaccination facility.

First published: 3 Dec 2020 Last updated: 20 Jul 2021 -