As you may already know, the Deputy First Minister (DFM) provided an update on the status of the Covid19 pandemic to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon. At this update he said that the current state of the pandemic in Scotland is fragile and that the Scottish Government was considering whether or not to extend the current vaccine certification scheme more widely. There is no decision yet on whether the current vaccination scheme will be extended. The First Minister is due to give her next three weekly review on the Covid19 pandemic next Tuesday, 16 November.
The DFM said that engagement with business would happen over the course of this week to help inform the decision on whether or not to extend the current vaccination scheme.
In response to members contacting me today and together with Liam Sinclair, Executive Director & Joint CEO of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre, and Julie Ellen, Artistic Director of the Macrobert, I have just had a meeting with Scottish Government officials to discuss the implications for members if the scheme were to be extended to cover theatres and performing arts venues not currently affected.
- The effectiveness of the current scheme in reducing transmission, and the evidence base behind any decisions about the scheme’s extension.
- Equality of access to, and exclusion from, the performing arts, where only those who have been able to be vaccinated twice can effectively attend and participate. The implications of this more widely for Scotland and its citizens.
- Proportionate action where many theatres are already working beyond basic mitigations by continuing to providing socially distanced performances and ensuring high levels of compliance in, for instance, mask-wearing.
- Alternative options, e.g. lateral flow tests.
- Operational challenges, including the financial implications of additional staff at short notice in a recruitment crisis, and the likelihood of reduced income should this dissuade audiences from attending.
- New financial support to enable effective implementation and to mitigate reduced income.
- The need for absolute clarity in communicating any changes to the current scheme to avoid confusion and prevent dissuading audiences from attending venues where safety measures are already beyond basic compliance and those experienced in other sectors.
This feedback will now be passed to colleagues within the Scottish Government to inform the eventual decision about changes to the Vaccine Certification Scheme.
Should you have any further comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me – Fiona.firstname.lastname@example.org – on or before Friday 12 November and I can pass this to colleagues at the Scottish Government.
Fiona Sturgeon Shea
Federation of Scottish Theatre
10 November 2021