SCOTLAND’S former culture secretary has stressed that the controversial Glasgow Euro 2020 fan zone is a “gateway process” for major events to return in Scotland – with no changes to be made to the event following crunch talks yesterday.

The SNP’s Fiona Hyslop, who was replaced as culture secretary following May’s Holyrood election, has admitted that government advisers have told ministers that trial events where people can gather are needed before Scotland can begin enjoying large-scale cultural events again.

Yesterday, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf held talks with council officials in Glasgow over whether the 3,000-capacity at Glasgow Green needed an overhaul – but no changes are to be made.

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Ms Hyslop was culture secretary when Glasgow was confirmed as a host for the tournament following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to the Herald’s Brian Taylor Podcast, Ms Hyslop said: “Part of this, really important to the hospitality and events industry, was to ensure that we can deliver events on the road – the process to freeing up opportunities for other areas of events to come back.

“It's a gateway process for major events. Scotland is a perfect stage for major events. It’s part of our offer internationally so therefore public health officials have been working very hard to ensure what is put forward is Covid safe.”

Ms Hyslop was pressed over the absence of mandatory testing of people entering the fan zone, despite the process being used for games at Wembley and a host of other venues across Europe.

Glasgow Times: Former SNP culture secretary Fiona HyslopFormer SNP culture secretary Fiona Hyslop

She said: “If you look at the examples previously, the pilots at rugby at Murrayfield when they tested about 1,000 coming in and out.

“If you hold people up, that’s where the biggest risks are.”

Ms Hyslop insisted that if people want to see mass gatherings return as Covid levels reduce, trial events such as the fan zone, need to take place.

She added: “The events advisory group has been quite clear that if we can try and get some of the big major events back, it will help get all of the events back.”

Speaking after his meeting with officials and organisers, Mr Yousaf said that “planning has been meticulous to minimise the risk of transmission”.

He added: “As we have always said, the situation with the virus will be continually monitored during Euro 2020 and as part of that ongoing work I have today set up a review team, made up of the government, city council and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Public Health to provide continuous advice on the ability of the fan zone to continue to operate safely.

READ MORE: Glasgow Green fan zone begins to take shape ahead of Euro 2020

“We have also discussed what further possible mitigations could be put in place that do not inadvertently cause public health harm.”

Meanwhile, a Glasgow bar and restaurant has criticised the fan zone plans and claimed six people from different households cannot adequately social distance on the benches set up by organisers.

David Maguire, who owns the 1051 GWR venue in the West End of Glasgow, believes “there’s absolutely no way people will comply with social distancing” at the fan zone.

He said: “People who are not in the same household have to be one metre apart from each other.

“To have six people sitting at a picnic bench is blatantly a breach of regulations - they’ve really failed at the first hurdle.

“They seem to be doing whatever they want to do. It’s not going to be very safe. Having six people sitting at a bench is exactly what my environmental health officer told me I could not do.”

Glasgow Times: Chris WeitzChris Weitz

But Chris Weitz, senior sport development officer at Glasgow Life, said he is confident it will be a safe environment.

He said “We’re expecting people to come to the fan zone and enjoy the games in what I would describe as one of the safest places they could come to watch the football matches, we’re outside, the tables are separated, two metres social distancing.

“We’ve adhered to guidance, we’ve worked closely with the Scottish Government and other partners taking advice on what measures we need to have in place, and we will continue to do so.

“This fan zone will be one of the safest places to watch the Euro matches and we are very confident of that and we’ve worked so hard to ensure that will remain so for the 31 days."