Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Dundee could be scrapped following a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people, The Courier can exclusively reveal.
Tayside’s summer of music hangs in the balance after first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a halt on large-scale events in a bid to free up front-line emergency workers to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
Ms Sturgeon said it was “inappropriate that we continue as normal” while confirmed cases of the virus continue to grow and argued the move would reduce pressures on police and ambulance staff for the “significant challenge that lies ahead”.
The Big Weekend, which is expected to attract huge numbers of visitors to Dundee and provide a substantial boost to the local economy, is just one of a number of major live events in the city which could be impacted by the announcement.
It is understood BBC bosses have been monitoring the situation for some time but had been reluctant to make a formal decision while there was still hope the Big Weekend could go ahead from May 22 as planned.
The Courier has learned officials have now held talks with partner organisations to discuss options moving forward, including cancelling the weekend or attempting to reschedule the complex arrangements for some time in the future.
The BBC declined to comment but was clear no final decision has yet been made.
Dundee City Council leader John Alexander confirmed the developing coronavirus situation is something authorities have been “very mindful of for numerous weeks”.
Mr Alexander said the council is “planning for every eventuality” and he intends to meet with chief executive David Martin to discuss resilience plans.
“It won’t come as any surprise that we’ve been actively assessing all events, including the BBC Big Weekend, as the situation with Covid-19 develops,” Mr Alexander said.
“We need to listen to the professional medical advice and it seems certain that practical measures to limit the spread will result in the rescheduling or cancellation of events UK-wide.
“Decisions on local events which take place in the next six months are yet to be made.
“At present those events, such as the BBC Big Weekend and concerts at Slessor Gardens, are the focus much scrutiny, and the relevant parties will make a decision based upon the best advice at the time.
“We need to recognise the need to minimise the spread of infection and if that ultimately results in events being pushed back, so be it in my view. The cases remain low but we can’t be complacent.”
Alongside Radio 1’s Big Weekend, multi-platinum pop group The Pussycat Dolls are scheduled perform an open-air gig at Dundee’s Slessor Gardens on July 26.
Organiser The Liz Hobbs Group did not respond to a request for comment.
Steve Porter, executive producer of the Rewind festival – which will return to Scone Palace on July 19, said organisers would adhere to advice from experts.
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