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Singer Iona Fyfe believes music industry has been ‘left out to dry’ by Omicron Covid restrictions

Iona Fyfe. Courtesy Elly Lucas.
Iona Fyfe. Courtesy Elly Lucas.

North-east folk singer Iona Fyfe believes the live music industry has been “left out to dry” in the current Omicron Covid restrictions.

Scottish Government rules have capped capacities for indoor events at 200 if seated and just 100 if standing since Boxing Day.

The restrictions to try and slow the spread of the highly infectious strain have decimated the events sector due to the limits making events unviable.

Huntly singer Ms Fyfe says her and other performers have faced a Christmas and New Year with many cancelled shows – describing the situation throughout the pandemic as a “nightmare”.

And the performer, who is a committee member of Musicians’ Union Scotland, has called for the current Covid restrictions to be eased to allow Glasgow-based Celtic Connections and Burns Night events to go ahead in January.

She told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: “Over the last two months so many musicians have had cancellations at Christmas and New Year when there is a lot of work.

Iona Fyfe performing at the Scottish Crannog Centre in Perthshire
Iona Fyfe performing at the Scottish Crannog Centre in Perthshire. Photo: Steve MacDougall / DCT Media

“I have had a lot of income cancelled as well as so many other musicians.

“But this time, due to Omicron, we don’t have the self-employed income support grant so things have been a little harder this time round.

“Creative Scotland has been really amazing at mobilising really quickly with a cancellation fund, where musicians who could demonstrate they had a gig cancelled or postponed could apply with a turnaround of up to 20 days for up to £2,000 – that is amazing.

“But for the bigger picture there has been an industry that has been completely left out to dry without self-employed income support.

“I know Omicron has completely changed things, but at the end of the day it is people who cannot work due to the restrictions.”

‘There has been a lot of emphasis on sport, not enough on music’

The Scottish Government has allocated £10million to Creative Scotland to help support the industry for lost work between November 2021 and March 2022.

The self-employed income support scheme, which was administered by the UK Government, closed for claims on September 30 last year.

Iona Fyfe is hopeful capacity restrictions at venues will be eased but believes other Omicron Covid regulations should remain in force to help control the virus – including face coverings, vaccine passports and proof of a negative lateral flow test result.

She added: “There’s been a lot of emphasis on sport, but not enough on music and the arts. Celtic Connections has been almost completely decimated and rebuilt in the last few weeks.”

Later today, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will unveil the plan to ease the next wave of restrictions. Follow her updates on our live blog from 2.15pm.

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