FESTIVALS and events will be "wiped out" if strict Covid rules are not relaxed, it has been claimed. 

Scottish cultural centres and venues could risk being left behind their counterparts in England as rules are set to change differently either side of the border. 

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Arts venues could face permanent closures if the 2m distance is maintained for theatres and concert halls - despite having 1m in bars - industry experts have claimed.

Organisers warned Scotland risks of being left off UK tour schedules for the rest of the year if the country keeps social distancing rules intact.

Under Scotland’s current route map, audiences of up to 400 indoors and 2,000 outdoors will be allowed by the end of June.

But event organisers are being told they must enforce two-metre social distancing, even for festivals planned later in the summer.

Leading independent festivals have joined forces with the Association of Independent Festivals and the National Outdoor Events Association to condemn event guidelines.

A joint statement said: “Those conditions would effectively mean the immediate cancellation of most if not all major music festivals in Scotland this year.

"There is a real danger that for a second year running, Scotland’s music festivals will be completely wiped out.

“Music festivals take months to plan and we cannot wait any longer for support.

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"Our industry is already witnessing casualties. While many festival promoters may be able to carry on for one more year, we are seeing parts of the supply chain disappear.

"Suppliers going into liquidation, freelancers retraining and looking elsewhere for employment.

“We are genuinely concerned that there may not be the support and supply chain in place to allow festivals to return in 2022.

“We appreciate how incredibly difficult this pandemic has been and the work put in to keeping us safe.

“We also recognise that many sectors of the economy are asking to be first in the queue.

"We recognise that we will be one of the last sectors to emerge from this, but we won’t be able to do so without further clarity and support.”

Nick Williams, chief executive of Horsecross, which runs Perth Theatre and Perth Concert Hall, said: “Curtains are going up in England, but doors to Scotland's important arts venues are firmly shut.

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“That risks irreparably damaging not just the arts sector in Scotland, but the towns, cities and thousands of local businesses that venues help support.

“We have robust Covid procedures in place for the protection of audiences, performers and staff.

“Concert halls are generally well ventilated with good airflow systems, high ceilings and spacious interiors.

“Audiences sit side by side all facing in the same direction for a limited period and can be asked to wear masks.

"We find ourselves in a situation where customers could be sitting at one metre distance from other households in our café without masks, then have to move to 2.5m distancing with masks as they enter the auditorium.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said current social distancing restrictions and capacity limits will be reviewed if the SNP is returned to power.