VisitScotland – Events Guidance

This advice has been prepared in response to the growing concerns in the events industry and is correct at the time of publication.  The situation around coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly evolving, this advice is specifically for the events industry and is based on current Scottish Government guidelines.

For wider advice for the tourism industry go to the VisitScotland coronavirus advice page.

Current situation

On 12 March the Scottish Government announced new advice for event organisers that all gatherings above 500 people with the potential to impact the emergency services should be cancelled to prioritise the COVID-19 outbreak. View the full statement.

The Scottish Government has today (Sunday 15 March) published further advice to organisers on mass events both indoors and outdoors on COVID-19. You can read the full advice here. We’ll continue to monitor this closely and will update accordingly.

Advice for Events Organisers 

For all events which are not impacted by the current advice from Scottish Government,  please consider the following in your event delivery plans:


  • You should stay up to date with the latest health advice on COVID-19
  • Remain mindful of guidance on infection control in the workplace i.e. Catch It, Bin It, Kill It.
  • Scottish Government advises that anyone (public and staff) with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 should not attend events and should stay at home for seven days
  • Ensure well-signposted facilities are in place to promote frequent hand-washing and good hygiene. You may want to consider additional supplies of hand wash and hand sanitiser for staff and attendees
  • Where appropriate, ensure there are supplies to enable regular cleaning of surfaces
  • Provide regular and up-to-date briefings for staff as necessary. Consider special advice for front-of-house staff, stewards, volunteers, welfare staff and first aiders as well as those responsible for those handling food and beverage, tickets, merchandise, waste and cash
  • Reassure your participants, stakeholders and audiences that you are following official advice
  • Ensure your event management and contingency plan is up to date and you have a cancellation, curtailment or postponement plan in place
  • Ensure your crisis comms strategy follows official advice as circumstances may change before or during your event


Event cancellation

We understand that in the current situation you may have concerns about the viability of your event, and may be considering cancellation or postponement.

In preparation for a situation where you may have to cancel or postpone your event, it is advised that you consider the following so that you are well prepared to minimise disruption:


  • Check your insurance policy for cancellation cover and make contact with your insurer to discuss the terms of your cover
  • Engage in discussion early with key stakeholders and operational partners before deciding to cancel or postpone an event
  • Review your budget and consider wider obligations to your contractors, suppliers and customers, to understand any financial implications linked to cancellation
  • Consider potential impact on funding and commercial agreements
  • Consider potential impacts on performers, participants, staff and volunteers
  • Consider options to postpone or alternative delivery solutions e.g. behind closed doors approach, use of livestreaming
  • Check your ticketing T&Cs and ensure that you are clear about your ticketing refund strategy and that the impact of cancellation or postponement is understood and communicated effectively to your customers
  • If you do not have one in place, a communications strategy is advised in order to inform your stakeholders, staff, attendees / ticket holders, media, contractors, suppliers and general public
  • Check that you have adequate staff available to be able to deal with refunds, enquiries and crisis communications
  • Consider whether your website or ticketing systems are capable of handling increased traffic

Frequently asked questions 

Q: I don’t have a crisis communications plan, what should I do?
A: The EventScotland team is working on advice to help you develop a crisis communications plan, and this will be made available on our website from Tuesday 17 March.  We suggest that you inform staff, performers, suppliers and contractors of any cancellation or postponement before any media announcements are made.

Q: I’m not sure I will have enough staff to safely deliver my event, what should I do?
A: Individual staff are likely to have concerns for their own health and wellbeing and may well be nervous about being in an event environment. It’s important to convey to your staff that you are following all official guidance and to brief them on any mitigating actions you are taking. Ultimately it is your decision to make in line with your risk assessments, current legislation and guidance to ensure you can safely deliver your event.

Q: My event has contracts in place with self-employed staff. What advice should I provide?
A: The support you can provide staff will depend on individual circumstances. Guidance is available for employees and employers.

Q: In the event of cancellation, how do I deal with refunds?
A: Check your ticketing T&C’s and speak to your insurers in the first instance and then plan how you communicate any decisions to ticket holders with the support from your ticket agents / box office team and ensure staff are in place to deal with enquiries and possible complaints.

Q: I have received EventScotland grant funding and am planning to cancel my event. What should I do?
A: Please contact your EventScotland Event Manager to discuss, they will be able to give you the most up to date advice specific to your event.


If you have further questions, please email the EventScotland team at We aim to respond to your enquiry within 24hrs or the next working day Monday – Friday.

For wider advice for the tourism industry go to the VisitScotland coronavirus advice page.

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