Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, Jenny Gilruth MSP, joined the November meeting of Scotland’s Event Industry Advisory Group (EIAG), to lead the discussion on a range of areas including COVID-19 Certification and its implementation, future mitigation measures and EU Exit challenges faced by the events sector.
COVID-19 certification scheme
Ms Gilruth opened the meeting by giving thanks and recognition to the efforts made by the sector to implement mitigations required to reduce transmission, and to make events as safe as possible for attendees and the workforce.
Ahead of the First Minister’s three-week update to Parliament, Ms Gilruth updated the Group on the Scottish Government’s continued work to decide if vaccine certification will be expanded to take in wider settings such as theatre, cinema and hospitality.
Reflecting on the potential challenges ahead across winter, the Minister also welcomed any advice or recommendations from the EIAG on what practical measures might be taken by the sector to keep case numbers down and to enable events to operate safely including whether the percentage of vaccine certification spot checks could be increased.
EIAG members asked the Minister for clarification on whether booster vaccines would be integrated into the COVID-19 Status App and if Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) could be considered as part of the scheme. Members also flagged the continuing constraints on securing resource, particularly the need for security staff who are playing a vital role in the implementation of the scheme across events. Additionally, the Group highlighted that consideration is being given to the establishment of a Working Group that would provide recommendations to address emerging skills and employment gaps across the sector.
The EIAG also confirmed they would be keen to engage on any plans to increase spot checks so that they could help shape and inform any potential extended mitigation. A further ask was made by the Group around additional funding to help support mitigations and the additional staffing required to ensure compliance with the regulations.
The Group tabled the importance of showcasing the work of the sector and how events are being delivered safely, as well as their contribution to the overall social, economic and wellbeing of Scotland. It was noted by the Group that confidence in attending events is high, but that ticket sales and attendance was being impacted by certification. Variations in confidence to attend differ across demographics but generally people are keen to get out and experience live events.
The Minister confirmed the Scottish Government is considering how to include booster and third doses in the record of vaccination as evidence for international travel and entry to certain countries. The use of negative lateral flow testing as an alternative to vaccination is also being considered. Ms Gilruth highlighted the recent £450k support made available as part of Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund to help the return of events across the country.
EU Exit challenges
Ms Gilruth requested feedback from the EIAG in relation to EU Exit challenges. Members highlighted a number of issues faced by the sector including: visa processing; reluctance of shows and artists committing to come to the UK; differences in how rules are applied across different locations and at city level; transport costs; issues for the self-employed and freelance sector, and the global shortage of microchips also having an effect on the wider event sector supply chain. Ms Gilruth indicated that there would be a Parliamentary debate prior to Christmas on the EU Exit and that feedback would be shared with UK Government.
The meeting also included an update from VisitScotland Events Directorate on the continued work around Standard Classification Codes (SIC), industry communications and Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund.
The recent Event Industry webinar was also referenced as achieving positive attendance and feedback. Read VisitScotland’s news story about the Event Industry webinar to learn more.
The Group were also advised that details on Scotland’s National Events Conference would be shared in due course.
The next meeting of the EIAG will take place on 10 December. Further outputs from the group and representatives from the sector can raise any points for consideration by the group by emailing EIAG@eventscotland.org.
Scottish Parliament Image credit: VisitScotland/Kenny Lam