Covid-19: Can my group get back to in-person activities?

Guidelines covering how music groups can get back to rehearsing and performing are being published in the different nations of the UK: 

Whether you're a choir, band, orchestra or other kind of music group the tool below will help you identify which bit of guidance is relevant to you, and help you establish what your group can and cannot do.

The situation is ever changing, so please always check the latest official guidance, including local variations, before making and implementing any plans.

First published 13 July 2020

Latest update:

  • England: rehearsals 19 July, performances 19 July 
  • Northern Ireland: rehearsals 29 July, and performances 29 July 
  • Scotland: rehearsals 23 July, and performances 23 July    
  • Wales: rehearsals 19 July and performances 19 July

What country is your group based in?

Do you want:  

England moved to step 4 of the roadmap on 19 July and most restrictions have been lifted.

What can my group do?

DCMS have confirmed with us that as per previous announcements: 

  • There will be no limits on the number of people that can gather to rehearse indoors or outdoors. This includes choirs. 
  • The need to socially distance has been removed.

However, the move to step 4 and easing of restrictions does not mean risk of Covid has disappeared, and groups will still need measures in place to ensure they are providing a safe environment. (See Covid Secure Rehearsals).


Covid Secure Rehearsals

DCMS have not updated their arts sector specific guidance for step 4. Instead the government has published Events and Attractions guidance that covers how to operate at step 4 and from 19 July.

Although it does not reference amateur music making, venues and groups organising activities in those venues should refer to the Events and Attractions guidance. It contains guidance on mitigations to help reduce the spread of the virus, with six priority actions:

  1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes risks from COVID-19. 
  2. Turn people with COVID-19 symptoms away. 
  3. Provide adequate ventilation. 
  4. Clean more often. 
  5. Enable people to check in at your venue to track any infections. 
  6. Communicate and train.

Risk assessment

We will be updating our risk assessment guidance in line with the new Events and Attractions guidance soon.

Covid risks remain, so a risk assessment will still be central to what you do. However, as the vaccination programme rolls out and the guidance changes, how you mitigate those risks might change.

Speak to your members: This is a really important step for groups. Understanding how your members feel will inform what measures you keep and what measures you can remove:

  • Are they happy to a have a full rehearsal with all of your group in one room?
  • What measures would they still like in place?
  • How do they feel about face coverings indoors?

Some things that might change:

  • The requirement to socially distance has been removed, so the number of people allowed at a rehearsal will not have to be based the 2m or 1m+ rule

Some things that might not change:

  • Preventing Covid from even reaching your rehearsal will remain the best way to keep a safe environment. Send clear messaging to your members asking them not to attend if they feel unwell and encourage them to take lateral flow tests.
  • Airborne transmission remains the biggest risk, so good ventilation will still be important.
  • Regular hand washing is a low impact but effective measure.
  • Social distancing rules will no longer dictate the number of people allowed at a rehearsal – but some measure to control the flow of people might be required, and you might want to keep some measures (like a one-way system) to avoid crowding.

Face coverings: face coverings will no longer be a legal requirement from 19 July, but government advice will still be to wear them indoors in crowded public places. Groups will need to think about how to approach face coverings. The size and ventilation of your venue along with your members’ views will be key factors in that decision.

Vaccinations: knowing how many people are vaccinated will help you decide on what measures to keep. You don’t need to know exactly who is vaccinated, just how many, and it is better to collect this data anonymously. Knowing that 90% of members are vaccinated will still be useful as you assess risk and plan your mitigations.

 

England moved to step 4 of the roadmap on 19 July and most restrictions have been lifted.

What can my group do?

  • Public performances can go ahead without any limit on audience numbers
  • Social distancing measures are not required
  • Face coverings are also no longer be a legal requirement, but government advice will still be to wear them indoors in crowded public places.

The move to step 4 and easing of restrictions does not mean risk has disappeared, and groups will still need some measures in place to ensure they are providing a safe environment (see Covid Secure Events).


Covid Secure Events

DCMS are not be updating their arts sector specific guidance for step 4.. Instead the government has published Events and Attractions guidance that covers how to operate at step 4 and from 19 July.

It does not reference amateur music but is the relevant guidance for venues and groups organising activities in those venues. It contains guidance on mitigations to help reduce the spread of the virus. It has 6 priority actions:

  1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes risks from COVID-19. 
  2. Turn people with COVID-19 symptoms away. 
  3. Provide adequate ventilation. 
  4. Clean more often. 
  5. Enable people to check in at your venue. 
  6. Communicate and train.

We will be updating our risk assessment guidance in line with the new Events and Attractions guidance soon.

Making Music member groups can return to activity if their area is in Level 2 or below within the restriction and guidance laid out below. In Scottish Government publications, groups are referred to under the heading of ‘non-professional performing arts’

Strategic Framework and Protection Levels

You can check which protection level your are is in using the Postcode checker for COVID restrictions by protection level in areas of Scotland.

The summary information on what you can do at each level has been published: Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels.  

It makes specific reference to non-professional performing arts in the “Leisure and entertainment section” as follows:

  • Level 4 - closed.
  • Level 3 - closed.
  • Level 2 - Outdoor organised adult non-professional performing arts activities permitted.
  • Level 1 – Indoor (and outdoor) organised adult non-professional performing arts activities permitted.
  • Level 0 - Indoor (and outdoor) organised adult non-professional performing arts activities permitted.

What can groups do?

From 19 July, all of Scotland is in LEVEL 0

In Level 0, outdoors and indoors group music activity is permitted.

The physical distancing requirement at Level 0 is now 1m between households in all indoor and outdoor non-domestic premises.

Face coverings remain mandatory in most indoor communal places.

Groups must refer to guidance for the performing arts and venues sector for operational guidance (see below for summary).

Groups working with children and young people (under 18) must also refer to organised activities for children’s guidance (see below for summary).


What next?

In June, Scottish Government announced their aim to lift restrictions over the summer with indicative dates. The next indicative date is:

9 August - All major remaining COVID restrictions will be lifted if the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction continue to be met. All physical distancing regulations lifted.

Post 9 August – In its updated strategic framework the government says: “As we move beyond Level 0 we must still ensure that sufficient measures are in place to manage the spread of the virus… (S)ome baseline measures which we currently expect to retain include:

  • Good hand hygiene and surface cleaning.
  • Continued promotion of good ventilation.
  • Requirement for face coverings in certain settings (e.g. public transport, retail).
  • Continued compliance with Test and Protect, including self-isolation when necessary.
  • Ongoing need for outbreak management capability, including active surveillance..."

It is expected that post Level 0, all physical distancing regulations will be lifted.

More detail can be found in the updated strategic framework: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland's Strategic Framework update - June 2021

 


Guidance for performing arts (adults)

Scottish Government guidance revisions were published on 19 July and there is a section with an perational guide for non-professionals gathering for performing arts activities. It permits organised groups to undertake their activities “currently permitted in their local authority area, according to its protection level on the strategic framework”.

Definition of organised group: “Organised non-professional performing arts activity for adults (indoors or outdoors) should be managed by an organisation - including a business, charity or club.”

Where activity is permitted, organisers should ensure compliance with physical distancing; hygiene measures and completion of risk assessment processes and other measures and mitigations as referenced in the performing arts and venues guidance, including member/participant representatives in those processes.

Physical distancing and capacity:

In Level 0, the following applies:

  • physical distancing of 1m in outdoor settings
  • physical distancing of 1m in indoor settings

Physical distancing requirements will be removed when all areas in Scotland move beyond Level 0.

Guidance states: “Capacity should be calculated based on ensuring physical distancing … between participants/households and between organisers/leaders and support staff/volunteers and participants/households, and in accordance with the guidance and maximum numbers for events set out in the guidance on calculating physical distancing capacity in Public Settings.”

The maximum numbers at events are here. At Level 0, numbers are capped at:

  • 1000 standing / 2000 seated outdoors
  • 400 standing or seated indoors

Organisers must ensure physical distancing at all times and should refer to the guidance for calculating physical distancing capacity in public settings to establish maximum capacity possible in the premises or setting used. The number of music makers that can safely be accommodated in a venue is likely to be significantly smaller than the maximum stated in events guidance.

Operational guidance: Groups are permitted and required to operate under the same guidance as that provided for professional organisations “Organisers should undertake the same risk assessment processes as referenced in this guidance for professional organisations” and “non-professionals should follow all relevant operational guidance provided for professional performing arts organisations as well as that provided for non-professionals.”

Some steps that will usually be needed are provided, including (this is an extract):

  • Keep a record of attenders for 21 days to support Test and Protect.
  • Make sure that participants do not attend if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or when advised to self-isolate.
  • Observe the required physical distancing between each participant/household and any others attending, such as conductors, accompanists or audiences (where permitted). (measured from the edge of a performer’s chair)
  • Use back-to-back or side-to-side positioning of performers (rather than face-to-face)
  • Limit the duration of rehearsals and performances
  • Avoid exposure of attenders through using alternative programmes, technology or adapting, re-arranging or re-orchestrating for fewer participants.
  • Consider using screens or barriers in addition to physical distancing.
  • Determine what level of monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms or for COVID-19 is required to achieve as reasonable a level of risk mitigation as possible.
  • Ensure there is a clear policy in place for managing a COVID-19 positive individual

Operational guidance for professional organisations: There is additional guidance for professional organisations that non-professionals are required to follow in the whole guidance document. This includes a section on ensuring physical distancing at all times.

In the section called People involved in performing, producing, designing and supporting events there is guidance: 

  • On singing "...steps should be taken to reduce the risk of transmission, including limiting the number of people participating and increasing ventilation.”
  • On playing music  “Face coverings should be worn wherever possible unless exempt. Where wearing a face covering is not practical, for example, when playing some instruments, other mitigations such as screens, physical distancing, etc should be considered. Since face coverings have been shown to reduce the mass of aerosol expelled during singing, their use should be considered as additional precautionary mitigation.”
  • On handling musical instruments etc –  (extract):
    • using designated storage for large instrument cases; musicians with smaller instruments keep cases under their seat
    • avoiding sharing professional equipment wherever possible and place name labels on equipment, for example, percussionists maintaining their own sticks and mallets.
    • handling of music scores, parts and scripts to be limited to the individual using them
    • if equipment has to be shared, regularly disinfecting it (including any packing cases, handles, props, chairs and music stands) and always between users
    • cleaning of musical instruments by musicians, where possible
    • creating picking-up and dropping-off collection points where possible, rather than passing equipment such as props, scripts, scores and mics hand-to-hand
    • not permitting audience onto the stage or to touch equipment, props, instruments, set or other objects used by performers

Singing and Wind instruments: there are no additional restrictions placed on singing or the playing of wind instruments (woodwind/brass/pipes) specified in this guidance. However, groups should put in place all recommended mitigations to protect against the higher risks presented by aerosol transmission.

Members should read all guidance for professionals and non-professionals relevant to their activity and include mitigations in their risk assessments.

 


Youth groups

A full revision of organised activities for children’s guidance was published on 25 May and updated on 19 July. Revisions were made to follow the recommendations of the Advisory Sub-group, which groups organising music activity for children should also referred to. 

The guidance and sub-group advise that the following restrictions apply within the levels of the strategic framework:

Lower risk activities, such as music activities with percussion, keyboards, strings and guitars, can take place outdoors and indoors in Levels 0 – 3. 

Higher risk activities (singing, playing of woodwind or brass instruments):

  • Level 3 -  ELC to Primary 3 (children under 8) ONLY - activity outdoors and indoors is permitted.
  • Level 2 -  ELC and primary aged children (children under 12) -  activity outdoors and indoors is permitted. Secondary aged young people - activity outdoors is permitted. 
  • Level 1 and 0  - ELC, primary aged children and secondary aged young people -  activity outdoors and indoors is permitted.

Organisations are required to risk assess activity and apply mitigations to reduce risk. Activities should only take place with all mitigations in place. This is particularly important with those activities labelled as ‘high-risk’ because of the potential for aerosol production. The guidance identifies a ‘hierarchy of risk’:

“outdoors being safer than indoors; activities undertaken at low volume or that have lower respiratory exertion being safer than aerosol-generating activities; individual or small numbers involved being safer than large groups; activities involving no sharing of equipment being safer than those that do (or where equipment cannot be cleaned thoroughly between uses); and activities which can be done at a distance (or virtually) being safer than those in close proximity. Shorter duration carries lower risk than longer duration.”

Organised groups are required to follow information on how to lower the risk in these guidances:

Additional mitigations to reduce the risk of ‘high-risk’ activities include physical distancing, ventilation and smaller groups.

Physical distancing and capacity

The guidance has a section on capacity and physical distancing that advises:

“At Level 0, all adults in settings should stay one metre apart in line with physical distancing principles… staff, parents and carers (and any other adults who may attend the setting), older siblings and any external contractors or delivery people. The household gathering restrictions do not apply to any gatherings for the purposes of organised activities.

Physical distancing requirements will be removed when all areas in Scotland move beyond Level 0, subject to review.”

On capacity, guidance states:

“We are not advising a maximum limit on the number of persons that are permitted at any one time, as the size and capacity of venues will vary. However, providers must ensure that the number of persons they allow in their venues or where their service is delivered, at one time can be safely accommodated with physical distancing in place… Service providers should assess the number of individuals (staff, volunteers, children and young people, parents) that can safely be accommodated in a setting at any one time, using the guidance set out here.“

This is referred to as “physical distance based capacity” (PDBC). The guidance also identifies other factors that will be important to consider in determining capacity and organisers should use the guidance to establish maximum capacity possible in the premises used.

Making Music member groups can return to both indoor and outdoor public performances if their area is in Level 2 or below, as long as they are acting with guidance, including capacity limits (see below).

What can my Group do?

Events are permitted from Level 2 with relevant physical distancing requirements and maximum capacities as below:

 

Indoor standard limit

Outdoor standard limit

Level 2

100 seated or standing

500 seated, 250 standing

Level 1

200 seated or standing

1000 seated, 500 standing

Level 0

400 seated or standing

2000 seated, 1000 standing event

You can check which protection level your area is in using the Postcode checker for COVID restrictions by protection level in areas of Scotland.


Strategic Framework and Protection Levels

From 19 July, all of Scotland is in LEVEL 0

The physical distancing requirement at Level 0 is now 1m between households in all indoor and outdoor non-domestic premises.

Face coverings remain mandatory in most indoor communal places.

Scottish Government announced in June their aim to lift restrictions over the summer with indicative dates. The next indicative date is:

9 August - all major remaining COVID restrictions will be lifted if the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction continue to be met. All physical distancing regulations lifted.

Post 9 August – in their updated strategic framework, the government says: “As we move beyond Level 0 we must still ensure that sufficient measures are in place to manage the spread of the virus… Some baseline measures which we currently expect to retain include:

  • Good hand hygiene and surface cleaning.
  • Continued promotion of good ventilation.
  • Requirement for face coverings in certain settings (e.g. public transport, retail).
  • Continued compliance with Test and Protect, including self-isolation when necessary.
  • Ongoing need for outbreak management capability, including active surveillance..."

More detail can be found in the updated strategic framework:

More detail can be found in the updated strategic framework: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland's Strategic Framework update - June 2021


Guidance for performing arts (adults)

Scottish Government guidance revisions to guidance were published on 19 July (performing arts) and 20 July (events). Non-professional groups organising performances are permitted and guided to use same guidance as professionals.

“For any activity with an audience present, non-professionals must follow the same guidance in relation to a public performance as professional performing artists/organisations.”

There are three key pieces of guidance to be aware of:

Read together, these provide all operational guidance you will require to create a COVID safe performance environment. General principles include:

  • People should continue to physically distance from those they do not live with wherever possible. Provide seating/standing space in a way which ensures physical distancing between individuals or groups from the same household can be maintained. All seating/standing space should be allocated in advance.
  • Face coverings are mandatory for audiences in performing arts venues unless the person is exempt for health, disability or other reasons. 
  • Also exempt are those who are performing…where:
    • there is a partition between the person and other persons, or
    • physical distance is maintained between the person and other persons
  • Encourage guests to purchase tickets online and to use e-ticketing and/or encourage contactless payment.
  • Keep a record of name, date, time and a mobile number or email address for all customers for a period of 21 days to support NHS Scotland's Test and Protect system
  • Clean auditoria very frequently and schedule performances to allow sufficient time to undertake necessary cleaning before the next audience arrives.

You can also use the Making Music Risk Assessment guidance and template to help you plan.

Wales moved to alert level 1 on 17 July.

On 7 August Wales will move to alert level 0 (if conditions allow and subject to review) – which will see restrictions on numbers indoors removed. The Welsh Government have released a document about proposed Alert Level 0. The full guidance is still being drafted but this detailed document outlines the wider thinking and touches upon some of the measures likely to be in place.


What can my group do?

Outdoors: you can organise a rehearsal with no limits on the numbers attending: 

  • Groups must carry out a risk assessment and have measures in place to mitigate risk (see COVID secure rehearsals below).
  • Groups rehearsing in public need to think about how to manage members of the public / passers-by. If people stop and watch, a rehearsal can quickly become a performance – which requires additional/different risk assessment

Indoors: you can organise an indoor rehearsal up to 1,000 seated or 200 standing can take place

  • This cannot be in a private home.
  • Groups must carry out a risk assessment and have measures in place to mitigate risk (see COVID secure rehearsals below).
  • There are no limits to the number of children aged under 11 that can take part

COVID secure rehearsals

The Making Music resource and template can help with creating a risk assessment.

Guidance called ‘Keep Wales Safe: creating COVID-aware events’ was issued on 10 June. This is general events guidance. It is a good starting point and has useful information about managing events and considerations common to all events (e.g. risk assessments, social distancing, face coverings, cleaning, movement of people etc.). 

Section 28 of this guidance is specifically about ‘Performances, including rehearsals, training and management of stages, dressing rooms and similar areas’ – this refers to the the Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts: Guidelines for phased return which was published in 2020 and has detailed and specific guidance for the music sector.

Some general points from the Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts : Guidelines for phased return:

  • The guidance makes no distinction between professional and non-professional groups (unlike the English equivalent) – the inference being it does apply to non-professionals.
  • It gives specific information for singing, wind, brass (part 3.19)
  • It gives specific information for other (non-singing, wind and brass) musical activity (part 13.20)
  • There have been some updates to the guidance – so if you read it a while ago it is worth another read. 

The guidance has lots of considerations and suggestions - you do not necessarily have to implement all of them. You should implement the ones that are most relevant to you in making sure you are providing a safe environment.

 
Some essentials are:
 
•    Do your own risk assessment – see our resource and template to help.
•    Maintain social distancing at all times
•    Clean more often (hands and venue)
•    Use face coverings
•    Have a track and trace system in place
•    Increase ventilation
•    Turn people away with symptoms
 
While we recommend you read the all the guidance, some key areas are:
 
•    2.3 Getting the basics right
•    3.2 ventilation
•    3.5 General guidance during rehearsals, training, pre-production and performance
•    3.6 Rehearsals and performance
•    3.19 Singing and playing wind and brass instruments
•    3.20 Playing music (excluding singing, wind, and brass)
•    4.4 Entrances, exits and managing the flow of people
•    4.5 Seating arrangements and use of common areas (including welfare facilities)
•    5.0 Cleaning objects, equipment and environments
•    5.2 Keeping the environment clean
•    5.3 Hygiene – handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets
•    5.4 Handling props, musical instruments, technical equipment, and other objects
•    5.5 Cleaning

Wales moved to alert level 1 on 17 July.

On 7 August Wales will move to alert level 0 (if conditions allow and subject to review) – which will see restrictions on numbers indoors removed. The Welsh Government have released a document about proposed Alert Level 0. The full guidance is still being drafted but this detailed document outlines the wider thinking and touches upon some of the measures likely to be in place.


What can my group do? 

Outdoors: you can organise a performance with no limits on the numbers attending:  

  • Groups must carry out a risk assessment and have measures in place to mitigate risk (see COVID secure rehearsals below).

Indoors: you can organise a performance for up to 1,000 seated or 200

  • This cannot be in a private home.
  • Groups must carry out a risk assessment and have measures in place to mitigate risk (see COVID secure rehearsals below).
  • There are no limits to the number of children aged under 11 that can take part

COVID secure events 

Groups putting on events must carry out a risk assessment and have measures in place to mitigate risk.

The Making Music risk assessment guidance and templates to help with this.

Guidance called ‘Keep Wales Safe: creating COVID-aware events’ was issued on 10 June. This is general events guidance. It is a good starting point and has useful information about managing events and considerations common to all events (e.g. risk assessments, social distancing, face coverings, cleaning, movement of people etc.). 

Section 28 of this guidance is specifically about ‘Performances, including rehearsals, training and management of stages, dressing rooms and similar areas’ – this refers to the the 'Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts: Guidelines for phased return', which was published in 2020 and has detailed and specific guidance for the music sector.

Some general points from the 'Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts: Guidelines for phased return':

  • The guidance makes no distinction between professional and non-professional groups (unlike the English equivalent) – the inference being it does apply to non-professionals.
  • It gives specific information for singing, wind, brass (part 3.19)
  • It gives specific information for other (non-singing, wind and brass) musical activity (part 13.20)
  • There have been some updates to the guidance – so if you read it a while ago it is worth another read. 

The guidance has lots of considerations and suggestions - you do not necessarily have to implement all of them. You should implement the ones that are most relevant to you in making sure you are providing a safe environment.

 Some essentials are:

  • Do your own risk assessment – see our resource and template to help.
  • Maintain social distancing at all times
  • Have one way systems in place
  • Clean more often (hands and venue)
  • Use face coverings
  • Have a track and trace system in place
  • Increase ventilation
  • Turn people away with symptoms

While we recommend you read the all the guidance, some key areas are:

  •  2.3 Getting the basics right
  • 3.2 ventilation
  • 3.5 General guidance during rehearsals, training, pre-production and performance
  • 3.6 Rehearsals and performance
  • 3.19 Singing and playing wind and brass instruments
  • 3.20 Playing music (excluding singing, wind, and brass)
  • 4.4 Entrances, exits and managing the flow of people
  • 4.5 Seating arrangements and use of common areas (including welfare facilities)
  • 5.0 Cleaning objects, equipment and environments
  • 5.2 Keeping the environment clean
  • 5.3 Hygiene – handwashing, sanitation facilities and toilets
  • 5.4 Handling props, musical instruments, technical equipment, and other objects
  • 5.5 Cleaning

As of 27 July indoor and outdoor in person music performances are allowed with measures in place. 

"Outdoor and indoor visitor attractions are permitted to open (including theatres, concert halls and other seated indoor venues) and are subject to the requirements on gatherings to determine the maximum numbers permitted access."

What can groups do? 

Indoor performances

Indoor theatres and concert venues can hold indoor performances (27 July), with some restrictions measures in place as detailed in Entertainment, leisure activities and cultural attractions section of the guidance

  • Venues will require Test and Trace information
  • 1m social distancing inside venue (which will impact capacity)
  • Advance booking required
  • Seats allocated
  • Audience remain seated (unless using facilities)
  • Face covering must be worn (unless exempt).

The Entertainment, leisure activities and cultural attractions section of the guidance does not specifically mention risk assessments but the Indoor gatherings section says:

"To determine the maximum number of people permitted to attend an indoor gathering, in a non-domestic setting, the organiser or operator must carry out a risk assessment.

Indoor gatherings of 15 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment."

We strongly recommend groups carry out a risk assessment for all indoor activities. See 'Covid Secure events' below for more details. 

Outdoor performances

Outdoor performances can take place. The Entertainment, leisure activities and cultural attractions section does not give much detial on measures for outdoor events, but the Outdoor Gatherings section has some detail: 

“To determine the maximum number of people permitted to attend an outdoor gathering, in a non-domestic setting, the organiser or operator must carry out a risk assessment.”

So the number is dictated by the risk assessment what is safe.

It also sates: "You should maintain social distancing, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.” without giving any information on what level of social distancing. We are seeking clarification.

Finally, the guidance also sates: “Outdoor gatherings of 30 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment”, we strongly recommend groups carry out a risk assessment for all outdoor activities. 

 


Covid Secure events 

Making Music’s guidance and risk assessment for performances can help you plan safe events.  

The Arts Council Northern Ireland document: In the Bubble of Our Making: Reopening the Arts in Northern Ireland covers outdoor performances in the Appendix (page 68) and has information on the sorts of measures needed relation to instruments and singing (page 30):

  • “Observing social distancing at all times whilst playing.
  • Group size would be governed by the regulations in place at the time.
  • For professionals (i.e. for work purposes) where social distancing is not possible, using fixed teams which are positioned socially distanced from any other fixed team or anyone else. – Note that this fixed team approach is not recommended in non-professional environments unless all the members of the fixed team are part of the same household or support bubble. It is also unlikely that this fixed team approach will be feasible where professional performers work with more than one group or organisation simultaneously.
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side positioning (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
  • Playing outdoors wherever possible.
  • If playing indoors, limiting the numbers to account for ventilation of the space and the ability to social distance.
  • Considering using screens or barriers in addition to social distancing.”

It includes extra measures for singing- based on the UK Government guidance ‘Principles of safer singing’:

  • “people with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, or who are known to have been in recent contact with others who have COVID-19, do not participate in singing or attend singing events.
  • Singing takes place only in larger well-ventilated spaces, or outdoors.
  • Performance or rehearsal is for limited periods of time at a reduced level of loudness, using
  • microphones for amplification if available.
  • Maximum group size would be governed by the regulations in place at the time and Limited numbers of people sing together.
  • Singers are spaced at least 2 metres apart in all directions”It also covers outdoor performances in the Appendix (page 68).

You can also use the Making Music’s guidance and risk assessment for performances.

 

The Arts Council Northern Ireland document: In the Bubble of Our Making: Reopening the Arts in Northern Ireland (based on official guidance) says on page 3:

Non-professionals should not currently engage in singing or playing wind and brass instruments with other people given these activities pose a potentially higher risk of transmission and whilst research is ongoing. 

The official guidance is clear, and your group cannot organise any in person rehearsals. 

What can groups do? 

Following a review on 21 May, the performing arts guidance has been withdrawn and the NI Executive have updated their guidance. Groups can meet to rehearse indoors and outdoors. 

What does the guidance say?

The numbers allowed to gather depend on the regulations in place at the time. Current regulations/guidance state the following:

Outdoor gatherings: 

"To determine maximum number that can attend, the organiser must have carried out a risk assessment. Outdoor gatherings of 30 people or less do not require a risk assessment.

The organiser must also take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

A person responsible for organising a gathering must, if requested to do so by a relevant person, provide:

  • a copy of the risk assessment; and
  • an account of the reasonable measures taken

You should maintain social distancing, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices."

Indoor gatherings: 

“To determine the maximum number of people permitted to attend an indoor gathering, in a non-domestic setting, the organiser or operator must carry out a risk assessment.

Indoor gatherings of 15 people or less do not require a risk assessment.

The organiser must also take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

A person responsible for organising a gathering must, if requested to do so by a relevant person, provide:

  • a copy of the risk assessment; and
  • an account of the reasonable measures taken'

It is important that indoor spaces are well ventilated at all times, by leaving doors and windows open. Frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, should be cleaned regularly.

Good hand hygiene should be encouraged and social distancing between households maintained."

 

What can groups do? 

  • meet to rehearse outdoors in public. While the guidance states that 'outdoor gatherings of 30 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment', we strongly recommend groups carry out a risk assessment for all outdoor activities. 

    If groups do rehearse outdoors in public they need to think about how to manage members of the public / passers-by. If people stop and watch, a rehearsal can become a performance, which may need to be risk assessed. 
     

  • meet to rehearse indoors. The maximum number of people that can attend indoor rehearsals will depend on a risk assessment of the venue. While the guidance states that 'indoor gatherings of 15 people or fewer do not need a risk assessment', we strongly recommend groups carry out a risk assessment for all indoor activities regardless.

 


Meeting to rehearse safely 

Groups meeting in person will need to carry out a risk assessment which meets the requirement of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

Making Music’s guidance and risk assessment for rehearsals can help with this. 

The Arts Council Northern Ireland document: In the Bubble of Our Making: Reopening the Arts in Northern Ireland also has information on the sorts of measures needed (page 30):

  • “Observing social distancing at all times whilst playing.
  • Group size would be governed by the regulations in place at the time.
  • For professionals (i.e. for work purposes) where social distancing is not possible, using fixed teams which are positioned socially distanced from any other fixed team or anyone else. – Note that this fixed team approach is not recommended in non-professional environments unless all the members of the fixed team are part of the same household or support bubble. It is also unlikely that this fixed team approach will be feasible where professional performers work with more than one group or organisation simultaneously.
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side positioning (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
  • Playing outdoors wherever possible.
  • If playing indoors, limiting the numbers to account for ventilation of the space and the ability to social distance.
  • Considering using screens or barriers in addition to social distancing.”

It includes extra measures for singing- based on the UK Government guidance ‘Principles of safer singing’:

  • “people with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, or who are known to have been in recent contact with others who have COVID-19, do not participate in singing or attend singing events.
  • Singing takes place only in larger well-ventilated spaces, or outdoors.
  • Performance or rehearsal is for limited periods of time at a reduced level of loudness, using
  • microphones for amplification if available.
  • Maximum group size would be governed by the regulations in place at the time and Limited numbers of people sing together.
  • Singers are spaced at least 2 metres apart in all directions”