The Olympics, Glastonbury, UEFA 2020, the Jonas Brothers' Vegas residency – the COVID-19 pandemic took many hotly anticipated events off the table, but I am confident I speak for all of us when I say that the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest hurt the most.
Founded following the second world war to promote cooperation between European countries, the Eurovision Song Contest had taken place every year since 1956 until it was cancelled for the first time in 2020. Although it is proceeding in 2021, because the pandemic continues it cannot be a "normal" Eurovision. To allow the world's biggest music show to proceed, the European Broadcasting union (EBU) has developed a COVID-19 Health and Safety protocol . The protocol sets out the requirements for all of those working, volunteering or competing in Eurovision.
A key feature of the protocol is regular testing of those involved in the contest. A recent, negative test is required to enter all official locations throughout the entire duration of the contest. All accredited individuals (those working, volunteering or competing) are required to be tested every 48 hours. If a positive result is returned, the individual and all of those with whom the individual has been in close contact must isolate, until they return a negative test result.
The contest's protocols have already been in action this week when members of the Polish and Icelandic delegations tested positive for COVID-19. Both delegations, as well as the Maltese and Romanian delegations who are staying at the same hotel, are now quarantining while further test results are awaited.
If a country's representative is unable to perform following a positive test result, a back-up recording will be used.
Eurovision forms part of the Netherland's "Fieldlab" experiments which examines how events can be held safety during the pandemic. The contest is therefore permitted to allow an audience of 3,500 for the show. The fans lucky enough to secure tickets are not required to wear face masks or adhere to social distancing, similar to the UK Government's Events Research Programme.
Public attendees are required to have a negative test result 24 hours before entry and to undergo a post-event test five days later.
Position in Scotland
Closer to home, in Scotland, there are protocols for "Flagship Events" such as the Edinburgh International Festival and UEFA Euro 2020. The Scottish Government has stated that exceptions from COVID-19 restrictions such as social distancing will be permitted to allow such events to proceed.
Beyond the flagship events, the possibility of other events proceeding varies across the restriction levels currently in place in Scotland. Most of the Scottish Islands are at Level 1 and can have outdoor seated events with a maximum capacity of 1,000 and indoor seated events with a maximum capacity of 200. At the other end of the scale are Glasgow and Moray in Level 3 where only drive-in events are permitted.
Most of Scotland is currently under Level 2 where outdoor seated events are capped at 250 and indoor seated events at 100. Under Levels 1 and 2, venues can apply for exceptions to the prescribed capacities, however physical distancing of 2 metres remains a requirement.
The Scottish Government has published guidance for the events sector, setting out the measures to be considered in relation to COVID-19.
While I wait patiently for Glasgow's turn to host the world's longest running song competition, one benefit of working from home is that I can blast Eurovision's greatest hits without fear of judgement from my less cultured colleagues.