Hydro arena may remain closed until end of 2021

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SSE HydroImage source, SECC
Image caption,
The SSE Hydro opened in September 2013

The Hydro arena in Glasgow could remain closed until the end of 2021 if social distancing remains in place.

Peter Duthie, chief executive of the Scottish Event Campus, is looking at measures to "de-risk events".

But he told the Edinburgh Evening News: "Anything which requires people to get together to create an atmosphere will be a huge challenge."

The SEC said the current two metre rule affected the capacity and financial viability of concerts and shows.

In 2015 the Hydro was named the world's second-busiest live entertainment arena after the O2 in London.

But the Covid-19 lockdown has now forced the closure of the 14,300 capacity venue's doors for more than three months.

'Very difficult'

And Mr Duthie, who is heading up a new events industry taskforce, said there were no guarantees things would return to normal any time soon.

He said: "Mass gatherings are not permitted at the moment, but even when they are, if social distancing is still in place it will be very difficult for any event to operate at all.

"It's very difficult to see how we can put on a full-event event at the Hydro before the middle through to the end of next year.

"If everything goes our way it may be possible to do things earlier but in terms of events looking like they did before it's difficult at the moment to see anything happening before then."

Mr Duthie said his team was working with promoters to establish what social distancing meant for capacity and financial viability.

He added: "We're looking at what mitigation measures could be put in place to 'de-risk' the staging of events.

"Part of that is about giving the customer confidence that they can come to an event safely.

"We are looking at how we can get to a position on how we can deliver events safely in the new world and give people an experience that they will want."

'Financial viability'

The SEC chief executive confirmed he was trying to persuade the government to allow test events but warned the obstacles facing the sector were "very challenging financially."

A spokeswoman for the campus said it was working with event organisers, NHS Scotland, the Scottish government and the wider event industry.

She said: "We are still planning to stage the current programme of events in the SSE Hydro but this will depend on social distancing restrictions and other government guidance. We will communicate further on an event by event basis.

"Clearly while social distancing remains in place it will impact on the capacity of venues, the visitors' experience and the financial viability of events.

"The health, safety and enjoyment of our visitors and staff are our absolute priorities."

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