The organisers of Edinburgh Fringe have announced this week that they’re cracking on with proceedings. I can understand why they’re doing it, as it is kind of their thing and all.
The fact that they’re not printing a paper programme suggests that they’re not exactly confident that it will go ahead as planned. They’re planning on running online shows, as well as performances in the actual physical realm.
Whatever does go ahead in the real world will almost recently require some form of social distancing, which as I’ve said before on here will wipe out large swathes of venues. And the shows being planned outdoors are entirely dependent on the Scottish weather. And let’s just say Scottish rain doesn’t exactly hold back when it gets going.
I also don’t think the organisers have given enough thought on whether punters will feel comfortable going and mixing in and around with thousands of strangers from all over the place, especially with mutant variants of Covid appearing frequently.
Even if the entire country is vaccinated by that point, there will almost inevitably still be outbreaks of the virus one way or another.
Then another factor is that if performers are up there for the full month, they will be suffering from weakened immune systems. By the final week comes around, I am almost always running on empty. Edinburgh Lurgy is a very real thing. Combine that with Covid and you have a massive problem on your hands.
There are a couple of indicators for how a festival in the time of Covid could look.
In Perth this year, the fringe festival there had to shut down completely for a few days when there was an outbreak of Covid recorded in the city. Shows did restart again when they managed to track down and isolated whoever it was and who they’d been in contact with. It’s easy to see something similar happening during Edinburgh, albeit on a far more problematic scale.
And at NZ Fringe in Wellington, venues were running with reduced capacities. And Australia and New Zealand are countries with significantly better records on controlling the diseases.
We will just have to wait and see what unfolds.