THE weekend saw Glasgow’s first two major, live and in-person events in more than 15 months draw to a close.

Anyone who attended any of the Euro 2020 Fan Zone sessions or went along to the Merchant City Festival, will I’m sure, have thoroughly enjoyed the occasions.

The social nature of big city events like these is something many of us have missed and now as we are slowly putting lockdowns behind us, they will help improve our mental and physical wellbeing and boost Glasgow’s economic recovery.

Glasgow Times: Preparations for the UEFA European Championship 2020 fanzone at Glasgow Green are almost complete. Picture: Colin Mearns

The live events staged or supported by Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council would have attracted very nearly a million attendances and generated £26.7 million for the local economy had they not been cancelled or forced online last year because of lockdown.

On top of that there is the tens of millions that would have been generated for the local economy through commercial events.

They will play a significant role in the economic, social, health and wellbeing recovery of Glasgow by bringing communities together, attracting visitors and generating local spend to support the creation and continuation of jobs and business.

Glasgow Times: Preview of the UEFA Euro 2020 fanzone at Glasgow Green, Glasgow. Pictured are site cleaning workers Aimee Harper, left and Justine Ralston cleaning a giant Adidas ball...  Photograph by Colin Mearns.10 June 2021..

Events also provide a significant platform to promote the city and its visitor experiences globally.

In 2019, tourism in Glasgow contributed £744m to the city’s economy and supported more than 30,000 jobs.

I have been lucky enough to have been among nearly 40,000 people who attended the fan zone over 31 days and as well as great entertainment, I was impressed how safe and Covid-secure the site at Glasgow Green felt.

You couldn’t escape the sense of celebration in the air as people enjoyed some carefully planned freedom.

Forty-five matches were screened, 231 hours of free physical activity were delivered, and 87 incredible cultural events featured 312 artists and performers in 184 hours of cultural content for almost 10,000 people.

A free multi-sport pitch put on a variety of sports including football, rugby, badminton, tennis and volleyball, while the mini-pitch five-a-side saw little ones and adults alike put their skills to the test.

A thousand primary school pupils from eight nearby schools and 1500 young players from 22 grassroots football clubs across the city got involved in the Euro 2020 fun.

The Merchant City Festival opened on Thursday with a carnival party featuring stilt walkers and dancers, celebrating Baroque Venetian carnival traditions.

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The rest of the weekend saw a fantastic combination of outdoor arts, circus, dance and more showcased in and around nearby streets and venues, including at George Square and Barrowland Park.

These were mainly free to attend but the festival was slightly different to previous years due to Covid restrictions, which meant it didn’t feature markets, food trucks or live music stages.

Bringing live entertainment and events back into the city has required significant adaptations to all aspects of planning and delivery – all designed to ensure people can enjoy these events in a safe and low risk environment.

The success of these events should give us all confidence that we can stage mass events in the Covid era and still be safe.

Glasgow, as ever, will continue to be a welcoming host city, offering creative solutions where it’s possible to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

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When COP26 arrives in Glasgow later in the year, these large gatherings will give us all a better chance of understanding what we need to do to keep Covid in check. Rebuilding confidence takes time and for some of our events, it will be next year before we will see them return but the sound of live music and the sight of arts performances are an option for us all to consider again.

For some people, it will be just too soon to consider being back among large crowds, however much they would like to be part of a large social experience.

Having got used to finding alternative ways to enjoy performances, it might take a little time to rebuild our live events calendar, but we have got off to a great start.

A vital tool to keep society open and help reduce the spread of the virus is of course for people with no symptoms to test regularly. This week I opened the first of two new mobile testing centres that the council have developed by transforming two old minibuses into state-of-the-art, solar powered rapid testing units.

As more restrictions are expected to ease, testing those without symptoms twice a week can help stem the spread of the virus and protect ourselves, our families and our communities.