The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has returned to Scotland’s capital after being cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However the Fringe has a smaller number of shows in 2021, around a third of which will be online.

Running until August 30, it will feature around 700 in-person and online shows, compared with more than 3800 shows in 2019.

Edinburgh’s art, book, film and international festivals are also all going ahead this year.

Scotland moves beyond the Level 0 Covid restrictions on Monday, so a one-metre distancing requirement will remain in place for the first weekend of the Fringe.

However festival-goers are still being encouraged to wear masks, wash hands and give each other space throughout the event.

There will also be a scaled-back schedule of street performances around the city. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said it had worked with the city council and Scottish Government to develop rules for a safe festival.

Chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “The Fringe is always a remarkable feat, but this year it’s nothing short of extraordinary.

“In the face of complex restrictions and enormous challenges, the Fringe community has created a diverse and engaging programme of over 700 shows to entertain us, bring us joy, and ultimately do what culture does best: tell stories that help us understand where we are, what we’ve been through, and where we need to go.

“I’m enormously proud of the artists, venues, creatives and workers that have made this festival not only possible, but safe, engaging and entertaining.

“It’s so good to be celebrating the Fringe again this August, and I’d like to thank every artist, producer, worker, audience member, funder, sponsor and supporter that has got us here today.”

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said: “A huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to support the return of these globally significant cultural events and the benefits they bring to Scotland in terms of tourism, trade and our place on the world stage.

“Edinburgh’s festivals were sorely missed last summer and their return is another step in the right direction and testament to the determination of festival organisers, along with the artists, venues and businesses involved. I’m delighted that the Fringe will be able to welcome back audiences and give festival-goers something to cheer this year.”