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: 

The guidance does vary and so what you can and can’t do is different depending on what type of music group you are, whether that's a choir, band, orchestra or other kind of music group, and where you are in the UK.

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

Updated:

  • 31 July
    • England (performing groups and promoting groups)
    • Scotland (promoting groups)
    • 3 August - Wales (performing groups and promoting groups)
  • 7 August (Northern Ireland – performing groups and promoting groups)
  • 14 August (England – performing groups and promoting groups)
  • 20 August (England – performing groups )
  • 21 August (Scotland - promoting groups and England – performing groups) 
  • 25 August (Scotland - performing groups)
  • 24 August (Northern Ireland - performing groups)
  • 10 September (Scotland - performing groups, and England - performing groups)
  • 16 September (England - performing groups)
  • 17 September (Northern Ireland - performing groups, Northern Ireland - promoting groups, England - performing groups)
  • 18 September (Scotland - performing groups, England - performing groups)
  • 21 September (England - performing groups)
  • 22 September (England - performing groups, Northern Ireland - performing groups (other))
  • 23 September (England - performing groups, Scotland - performing groups, Northern Ireland - performing groups (other), Northern Ireland - performing groups (singing, wind and brass), Wales - performing groups, Wales - promoting groups)
  • 29 September (England - performing groups, Wales - performing groups)
  • 1 October (Wales - performing groups)
  • 6 October (England - performing groups)
  • 9 October (Scotland - performing groups)
  • 15 October (England - performing groups)
  • 21 October (England - performing groups, Northern Ireland - performing groups, Wales - performing groups)
  • 2 November (Scotland - performing groups, promoter groups)
  • 3 November (England - performing groups, promoter groups)
  • 6 November (Scotland - peforming groups,  Wales - peforming groups)
  • 13 November (Wales - peforming groups)
  • 18 November (Scotland - performing groups, Scotland, promoter groups)
  • 27 November (England - performing groups, Northern Ireland - performing groups (other), Northern Ireland - promoter groups)
  • 30 November (England - performing groups, England - promoter groups)
  • 1 Dec (England - performing groups, England - promoter groups)

What country is your group based in?

Do you want:  

The government has released guidance on Carol singing over the Christmas period, which takes effect from 2 December.  

DCMS have also updated their Performing Arts Guidance to cover other types of music activity.

The guidance is the same for carol singing and other types of rehearsal activity – so the guidance on this page applies to all types of rehearsal activity from 2 December.

If you want to find out about rules for performances, choose the ‘Organise a performance’ option on this form.  

The carol singing and DCMS guidance refer to some new guidance specific to singing which follows advice already given in the DCMS guidance and Making Music risk assessment resources. But it is a useful collection of the key points in relation to singing specifically. 

What does the guidance say? 

The guidance allows for rehearsals from 2 December in all tiers. 

The Carol Singing guidance

The guidance states that professional choirs and supervised activity for under 18s “are not limited in number and do not have to adhere to gathering limits but should still follow the performing arts guidance.”

For adult amateur choirs it states:
“…you should consider the case for proceeding (or not), given the wider health context in your area and the context of your participants, particularly if vulnerable individuals are involved.

If you do proceed, you should follow performing arts guidance and will be subject to local gathering limits. This means that if more than one group of six (in tier 1) or household (in tier 2 or 3) is performing or rehearsing indoors, they must not interact, ‘mingle’ or otherwise socialise together. You should maintain social distancing between groups or households at all times, including when entering or leaving the building or in any breaks. Direction can continue to take place during the activity i.e. between a conductor and a group, but other physical and social interaction is prohibited.”

DCMS guidance

The guidance allows for rehearsals of all types to take place in all tiers.

It says this:

"When considering undertaking singing or other performing arts activity, the following guidance and mitigations should be followed:

  • Where not for work purposes, you should consider the case for proceeding (or not) with the activity given the wider health context in your area and the context of your participants, particularly if vulnerable individuals are involved.
  • If you do plan to proceed, you should limit the number of performers as far as possible.
  • Even when in a COVID-secure venue such as a place of worship or performing arts venues, individuals must observe guidance on meeting with others safely. The cumulative effect of aerosol transmission means the more people involved, the higher the risk of transmission. It is therefore important to limit the total number of individuals involved in singing or other performing arts activity as much as possible.
  • If it is believed to be vital to involve more individuals in activity than the gatherings limits within each tier for the purposes of singing or other performing arts activity, this must only happen in a well ventilated COVID-19 Secure venue or public outdoor space, must be planned activity in line with the regulations, and must be in line with the rest of the performing arts guidance."

The rule of six and sub-groups of six are once again referenced here, confusingly, as they refer to socialising and social activity. A rehearsal is an organised activity and not a social activity – so the rule if six does not apply. However, it means that you should not allow social interaction or mingling to take place.

Again, it is emphasised throughout the guidance that social distancing of 2m should not be compromised before, during or after the activity.

Also particularly highlighted are the need for ventilation and face coverings.

 

What can my group do? 

Rrehearsals are allowed in all tiers.

Tier one, two and three 

Groups can meet to rehearse indoors or outdoors from 2 December. There is no limit on the total number who can do this but: 

  • The rule of six and sub-groups of six are once again referenced here, confusingly, as they refer to socialising and social activity. A rehearsal is an organised activity and not a social activity – so the rule of six does not apply. However, it means that you should not allow social interaction or mingling to take place.
  • To keep things clear and simple, Making Music recommend you don’t have sub-groups of six and instead have sub- groups of 1 (unless they are parent/child or partners or flatmates from same household). In other words, every single person in a rehearsal should be socially distanced (2 metres) at all times from every single other person in a rehearsal – and during breaks, arrival, departure and bathroom queue.

Travel between tiers: 

  • Individuals living in tier 2 can travel to tier 1 areas – but should still follow tier 2 rules. If you are using the ‘sub-groups of 1’ approach (above) this should not be a problem.
  • Individuals living in tier 1 can travel to tier 2 areas – but should still follow tier 2 rules. Again, as long as you are using the ‘sub-groups of 1’ approach (above) this should not be a problem. 
  • Individuals living in tier 3 should not travel to other areas unless necessary (so should not travel for rehearsal). 

Read the official guidance on the tier system

 

COVID secure rehearsals

We encourage groups to think carefully about putting on rehearsals and consider their particular situation. The local restrictions should be your key consideration but also consider the infection rate in your area and your members’ views.

Whatever tier you are in and whether meeting indoors or out, all groups should undertake a comprehensive risk assessment and put in place strong risk mitigation measures. Specifically, groups need to spell out that there is to be no social interaction (no mingling) and put measures in place to prevent this happening.

It is crucial in order to ensure continuing permission to meet for individual groups and for the whole sector that groups avoid any mingling (=social interaction at less than 2 metres distance) during their rehearsals.

Read the Making Music resource Risk assessment for COVID secure rehearsals including a template risk assessment to find out more.  

You should also read the DCMS guidance in full. We have pulled out the 7 priority actions you must take as an organisation below.

Other key sections of the guidance include

  • Performing arts activity for professionals and non-professionals including individuals and groups
  • Thinking about risk
  • Managing performances

The 7 priority actions you must take as an organisation

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your stakeholders.
  2. Clean more often. Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your participants, professionals and volunteers to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.
  3. Ask your participants to wear face coverings in any indoor space or where required to do so by law…Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.
  4. Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one way system that they can follow.
  5. Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.
  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all your attendees for 21 days. From 18 September, this will be enforced in law. Some exemptions apply. Check Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace for details. *Please note: you must register for an official NHS QR code and display the official NHS QR poster from 24 September 2020. Find out how on the government's website*
  7. Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If an attendee (or someone in their household) has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating.

There is also Government Guidance on singing. It follows advice already given by DCMS and Making Music in our risk assessment resources. But is a useful collection of the key points in relation to singing specially.

 

 

The government has released guidance on Carol singing over the Christmas period, which takes effect from 2 December.  

DCMS have also updated their Performing Art Guidance to cover other types of music activity.

The guidance is the same for carol singing and other types of performances – so this guidance on this page applies to all types of performances from 2 December.

This page focusses on public performances – choose the ‘organise a rehearsal’ option on this form to find out about rules for rehearsals. 

The carol singing and DCMS guidance refer to some new suggested principles of safer singing guidance, which follows advice already given in the DCMS guidance and Making Music risk assessment resources. But it is a useful collection of the key points in relation to singing specifically. 


What does the guidance say? 

The guidance allows for performances from 2 December in all tiers. 

Carol Singing guidance 

Indoor performances

“Professional and amateur choirs may perform in any indoor venue permitted to open, as per the restrictions in each tier… 

..the audience or congregation should not participate in any activity that can create aerosols, including singing, shouting and chanting. The maximum number of people present should take into account the area of the space and the requirement to maintain 2m social distancing at all times… Particular attention should be paid to how participants can arrive and leave the site safely while maintaining social distancing.”

Outdoor performances

“Professional and amateur choirs may perform outdoors in any venue permitted to open, as per the restrictions in each tier. 

Where a performance is held outdoors, an audience or congregation may join in with singing and should follow performing arts guidance. This means that audience or congregation members should follow social distancing of 2m and event organisers should ensure this is maintained. Attendees should remain seated where possible. The maximum number of people present should take into account the area of the outdoor space and the requirement to maintain 2m social distancing at all times. Particular attention should be paid to how participants can arrive and leave the site safely while maintaining social distancing.”

Door to door carol singing: 

“Door-to-door carol singing can take place in a group(s) of no more than six participants. If there are more than six people in total, each ‘group’ must not interact, ‘mingle’ or otherwise socialise. Participants should adhere to public health advice, including to ensure that you maintain at least 2m distance from anyone you do not live with and the threshold of any dwellings.”

DCMS guidance

The guidance allows for performances of all types to take place – but with some restrictions depending on what tier you are in.

There is also an emphasis on thinking carefully about whether you should perform.

“Where not for work purposes, you should consider the case for proceeding (or not) with the activity given the wider health context in your area and the context of your participants, particularly if vulnerable individuals are involved.”

The rule of six and sub-groups of six are once again referenced in the official guidance. When it comes to managing performers this is confusing, as the rule of six refers to socialising and social activity. For the performers, singing or playing is an organised activity and not a social activity – so the rule of six does not apply. However, it means that you should not allow social interaction or mingling to take place at any point – before, during or after the performance.

See this quote:

“Social distancing should be maintained. In particular, non-professionals should not engage in activities that may lead to social distancing being compromised.”

But the rule of six does apply for the audience as they are taking part in a social activity (see ‘What can my groups do’ below for more info).

Social distancing rules must be in place for everyone at the event – performers and audiences.

The Performing Arts guidance also places a limit on audience size:

“From 2 December, audience numbers for indoor performing arts events should follow new capacity restrictions. In tier 1 and tier 2, indoor audiences are permitted provided capacity in a venue is maintained at maximum 50% capacity or 1000 people, whichever is lower. Audiences must be socially distanced and capacity may need to be further reduced to ensure social distancing at all times. In tier 3 performing arts venues will be closed to the public.”


What can my group do? 

Performances of some type are allowed in all tiers – but the rules are slightly different for the different tiers.  

Tier one 

Indoor and outdoor performances

Managing performers: the rule of six and sub-groups of six are referenced in the official guidance. When it comes to managing performers this is confusing, as the rule of six refers to socialising and social activity. For the performers singing or playing it is an organised activity and not a social activity – so the rule if six does not apply. However, it means that you should not allow social interaction or mingling to take place at any point before, during or after the performance.

To keep things clear and simple, Making Music recommend you don’t have sub-groups of six and instead have sub-groups of one (unless they are parent/child or partners or flatmates from same household). In other words, every single performer should be socially distanced (2 metres) at all times from every single other performer – including during breaks, arrival, departure and bathroom queue.

Managing audiences: Attending a performance as an audience member is social activity and so the rule of six does apply. 

Individuals must be in sub-groups of a maximum of six and cannot interact or mingle with someone who is not in their sub-group of six – including arriving, leaving, queuing for the bathroom – or at any other point. This means group bookings should be limited a maximum of six and you need measures in place to stop sub-groups of six mingling with other sub-groups of six. 

Indoor:

  • The maximum allowed capacity is 50% of the venue or 2,000 people, whichever is lower.
  • Audience cannot join in any singing.

Outdoor:

  • The maximum allowed capacity is 50% of the venue or 2,000 people, whichever is lower.
  • the audience can join in the singing but there should mitigating measures in place such as social distancing, face coverings and limiting the duration.

Door to Door carol singing

Groups can go door to door carol singing from 2 December. There is no limit on the total number who can do this but: 

  • Individuals must be in sub-groups of six and cannot interact or mingle with someone who is not in their sub-group of six. 
  • Making Music recommend that you keep to sub-groups of six and divide an area up, rather than traveling as one larger group with multiple sub-groups. 
  • You should stand well back (at least 2 meters) from the threshold of the residential dwelling and ask if they would like you to sing before you start. Do not enter any homes. 

Travel between tiers

  • Individuals living in tier 2 can travel to tier 1 areas – but should still follow tier 2 rules (see below), If you are using the ‘sub-groups of one’ approach for indoor and outdoor performances (above) this should not be a problem. Door to door carolling should also be fine as individuals in tier 2 can meet in groups of six outside (but not inside). 
  • Individuals living in tier 3 should not travel to other areas unless necessary  (so should not travel for performances).

See COVID secure events and Risk Assessments below for more infromation on putting on performances.  

Read the official guidance on tier restrictions.  


Tier two 

Indoor performances

Managing performers: the rule of six and sub-groups of six are referenced in the official guidance. When it comes to managing performers this is confusing, as the rule of six refers to socialising and social activity. For the performers playing or singing it is an organised activity and not a social activity – so the rule if six does not apply. However, it means that you should not allow social interaction or mingling to take place before, during or after the performance..

To keep things clear and simple, Making Music recommend you don’t have sub-groups of six and instead have sub- groups of one (unless they are parent/child or partners or flatmates from same household). In other words, every single performer should be socially distanced (2 metres) at all times from every single performer – and during breaks, arrival, departure and bathroom queue.

Managing audiences:  Attending a performance as an audience member is social activity and so the rule of six does apply. 

For an indoor event individuals can attend in sub-groups of people they live with or are in a bubble with, but cannot interact or mingle with someone who is not on their household/bubble sub-group – including arriving, leaving, queuing for the bathroom – or at any other point. So household / bubble bookings are possible and you need measure in place to stop sub-groups mingling with other sub-groups.

Capacity: The maximum allowed capacity is 50% of the venue or 1,000 people, whichever is lower.

Audience participation: the audience cannot join in any singing.

Outdoor performances

Managing performers: the rule of six and sub-groups of six are referenced in the official guidance. When it comes to managing performers this is confusing, as the rule of six refers to socialising and social activity. For the performers playing or singingit is an organised activity and not a social activity – so the rule if six does not apply. However, it means that you should not allow social interaction or mingling to take place before, during or after the performance..

To keep things clear and simple, Making Music recommend you don’t have sub-groups of six and instead have sub- groups of one (unless they are parent/child or partners or flatmates from same household). In other words, every single performer should be socially distanced (2 metres) at all times from every single other performer – and during breaks, arrival, departure and bathroom queue.

Managing audiences:  Attending a performance as an audience member is social activity and so the rule of six does apply. 

For an outdoor event individuals must be in sub-groups of six and cannot interact or mingle with someone who is not on their sub-group of six – including arriving, leaving, queuing for the bathroom – or at any other point. this means group bookings should be limited a maximum of six and you need measure in place to stop sub-groups of six mingling with other sub-groups of six. 
The audience can join in the singing but should wear face coverings. 

Door to Door carol singing
Groups can go door to door carol singing from 2 December. There is no limit on the total number who can do this but: 

  • Individuals must be in sub-groups of six and cannot interact or mingle with someone who is not on their sub-group of six. 
  • Making Music recommend that you keep to sub-groups of six and divide an area up, rather than traveling as one larger group with multiple sub-groups. 
  • You should stand well back (at least 2 meters) form the door and ask if they would like you to sing before you start. Do not enter any homes. 

Travel between tiers

  • Individuals living in tier 1 can travel to tier 2 areas – but should still follow tier 2 rules.  
  • Individuals living in tier 3 should not travel to other areas unless necessary  (so should not travel for performances).

See COVID secure events and Risk Assessments below for more infromation on putting on performances.  

Read the official guidance on tier restrictions.  


Tier three

Indoor performances

Indoor music venues will be closed to audiences so performances will not be possible. They can open for rehearsals (select the rehearsal option on this form to find out more) and for performances without audiences and recordings – see online performances below for more information.

Outdoor performances

Outdoor music venues will be closed to audiences.

Some outdoor music performances are possible, just not in dedicated music venues, but for instance in parks, on beaches, in the countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility. So it is possible to put on performance at these kinds of outdoor venues:

Managing performers: the rule of six and sub-groups of six are referenced in the official guidance. When it comes to managing performers this is confusing, as the rule of six refers to socialising and social activity. For the performers, singing or playing is an organised activity and not a social activity – so the rule if six does not apply. However, it means that you should not allow social interaction or mingling to take place before, during or after the performance.

To keep things clear and simple, Making Music recommend you don’t have sub-groups of six and instead have sub- groups of 1 (unless they are parent/child or partners or flatmates from same household). In other words, every single performer should be socially distanced (2 metres) at all times from every single other performer – and during breaks, arrival, departure and bathroom queue.

Managing audiences:  Attending a performance as an audience member is social activity and so the rule of six does apply.

For performances at these outdoor venues, audiences must be in sub-groups of maximum six and cannot interact or mingle with someone who is not on their sub-group of six – including arriving, leaving, queuing for the bathroom – or at any other point. This means group bookings should be limited to a maximum of six and you need measures in place to stop sub-groups of 6 mingling with other sub-groups of six.

The DCMS guidance does not give a specific capacity limit, we suggest tier three should follow tier 2 limits: the maximum allowed capacity is 50% of the venue or 2,000 people, whichever is lower.

Audience participation: the audience can join in the singing but there should mitigating measures in place such as social distancing, should wear face coverings and limiting the duration.

Door to Door carol singing  

Groups can go door to door carol singing from 2 December. There is no limit on the total number who can do this but: 

  • Individuals must be in sub-groups of six and cannot interact or mingle with someone who is not on their sub-group of six. 
  • Making Music recommend that you keep to sub-groups of six and divide an area up, rather than traveling as one larger group with multiple sub-groups. 
  • You should stand well back (at least 2 meters) form the door and ask if they would like you to sing before you start. Do not enter any homes. 

Travel between tiers: 

  • Individuals living in tier 1 and 2 should avoid travel to tier 3 areas unless it is necessary (so should not travel for performances).

Note: Groups in tier three might find it hard to book venues for performances as they might be closed. 

See COVID secure events and Risk Assessments below for more infromation on putting on performances.  

Read the official guidance on tier restrictions.  


Online events

Even if you can in theory put on live carol singing performances, we know not all groups will want to. It is worth remembering that livestreaming and recorded performances for online broadcast are viable options. We have guidance on livestreaming and livestreaming subsidies for our promoter members to help with this. 


COVID secure events and Risk Assessments

We encourage groups to think carefully about putting on performances. Music is a traditional and important part of the festive period and brings joy to many – we would love to see performances take place, where it is safe to do so. But each group needs to consider their particular situation. The local restrictions should be your key consideration but also consider the infection rate and mood in your local area. 

Whatever tier you are in and whether performing indoors or out, all groups should undertake a comprehensive risk assessment and put in place strong risk mitigation measures. Specifically, groups need to spell out that there is to be no social interaction (no mingling) and put measures in place to prevent this happening.

It is crucial in order to ensure continuing permission to meet for individual groups and for the whole sector that groups avoid any mingling (=social interaction at less than 2 metres distance) during performances. 

The Making Music’s risk assessment guidance has more infromation and includes a template risk asessment. 

You should also read the DCMS guidance in full.

We have pulled out the 7 priority actions you must take as an organisation below.

Other key sections of the guidance include:  

  • Performing arts activity for professionals and non-professionals including individuals and groups
  • Thinking about risk
  • Managing performance

DCMS 7 priority actions:

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your staff. We have  produced guidance to help groups do risk assessments, including a template risk assessment.  
  2. Clean more often. Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.
  3. Ask your customers to wear face coverings in any indoor space or where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your customers are likely to be around people they do not normally meet. Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.
  4. Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one way system that your customers can follow.
  5. Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.
  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all your customers for 21 days. From 18 September, this will be enforced in law. Some exemptions apply. Check Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace for details.
  7. Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a customer has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating.

There is also Government Guidance on singing. It follows advice already given by DCMS and Making Music in our risk assessment resources. But is a useful collection of the key points in relation to singing specially.

 

 

New guidance for the festive period has been released by the Sottish Government. This restates the existing guidance and does not change anything. As such the guidance below applies to activity over the festive period.

From 2 November, the Scottish Government will adopt a strategic approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection. Whether your group can rehearse and/or perform in person will be dependent on what protection level applies to your area on the date of your activity. For Scottish Government guidance on organised activities involving children and young people see our summary below.

Initial protection levels will be set for each local authority area across Scotland from 2 November and then reviewed weekly to decide whether levels should be maintained, increased, or reduced. You can check which protection level your area is in on the Scottish Government website https://www.gov.scot/check-local-covid-level 

From Friday 20 November, it will be illegal for people living in level 3 or level 4 areas to travel outside their own council area and for people living elsewhere in Scotland to travel in to level 3 or level 4 areas, except for essential purposes. This may present further challenges to your activity. 

What does the guidance say?

There are 2 headings in Scotland’s Strategic Framework that apply to music making for non-professionals. 

The guidance for the performing arts and venues sector was updated on 5 November to connect with the strategic framework. If you are in an area with a protection level of 1 or 0 then you are permitted to meet within the guidance for performing arts and venues sector as follows. 
The ‘Non-professionals gathering for performing arts activities’ section of this guidance states:

“Non-professionals (meaning those participating in performing arts other than for work purposes), or groups which include non-professionals, may refer to this guidance for their activities, but…must at all times do so in line with government legislation, particularly in relation to the number of individuals or households meeting together currently permitted in their local authority area, according to its level on the strategic framework.”

This refers to the ‘Socialising’ heading in the strategic framework. Protection Level 1 can allow for meeting socially indoors in groups of no more than 6 people from 2 households BUT check regularly as this is kept under review and is not immediately allowed. Level 0 allows for meeting socially indoors in groups of no more than 8 people from 3 households. You cannot meet another household socially indoors in Levels 2, 3 or 4. 

At levels 1 and 0 groups are permitted to organise outdoor activity as follows:
“Non-professionals who are participating in an organised outdoor activity managed by an organisation - including a business, charity or club – can meet outdoors in local authority areas currently in Levels 0 - 1. Organisers have a duty to ensure compliance with physical distancing, hygiene measures and this and other relevant guidance, including events guidance for any outdoor activity. Organisers should undertake the same risk assessment processes as referenced in this guidance for professional organisations, including member/participant representatives in those processes. They can proceed with their activity if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between individuals or individual households. If they cannot ensure that physical distancing is not compromised - including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising - then such non-professional activity should not take place.”

Scottish Government have clarified that an activity is 'organised' if it is organised by:

(a) a person responsible for carrying on a business or providing a service,
(b) a place of worship,
(c) a charity or other not for profit organisation,
(d) a club or political organisation, or
(e) the governing body of a sport or other activity.

The guidance lays out steps that will usually be needed which include:

  • Observe the 2 metre physical distancing between each musician and between musicians and any other people such as conductors, accompanists or audiences (where permitted) at all times whilst playing (measured from the edge of the performer’s chair)
  • Use back-to-back or side-to-side positioning (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • Limit the duration of rehearsals, and performances where permitted, as far as possible

The guidance does not differentiate between singing/wind/brass and other instrumentation. Refer to the guidance for performing arts and venues for all suggested mitigations.  

The referred to events guidance provides guidance for all event organisers, from small to very large, outdoors and indoors. Refer to this for mitigations appropriate to the size and nature of your activity e.g. in Overview
“Outdoor seated live events – Attendees must have allocated seats for the duration of the event - either physical seats or marked areas on the ground which households must sit within … Event organisers must ensure that seating allows for physical distancing to be practised. Attendees must be able to enter and exit the event at fixed points only so numbers can be controlled and contact details collected. Event organisers should ensure that attendees do not congregate in certain areas (such as toilets, entry/exit or refreshment points) which could make physical distancing difficult. Capacity should be calculated based on ensuring 2m physical distancing up to a limit of 200 attendees at any one time.” N.B. Refer to full guidance for all advised mitigations.

What can groups do?

Levels 2, 3 and 4

Indoor rehearsing: No in home socialising = no music making indoors

Outdoor rehearsing: No organised outdoor activity (as per Performing Arts guidance)

Performances: Events not permitted (except drive-in events at level 2 only) 

Level 1

Indoor rehearsing: People can only play instruments/sing together indoors within numbers for socialising – max. 6 people from 2 households (when allowed so check Scottish Government guidance weekly).

Outdoor rehearsing: Outdoor activity permitted (as per Performing Arts guidance)

Performances: Outdoor events permitted – seated and open space, not grouped standing. Small seated indoor events permitted. Restrictions for non-professionals playing instruments/singing together also apply.

Level 0

Indoor rehearsing: People can only play instruments/sing together indoors within numbers for socialising – max. 8 people from 3 households

Outdoor rehearsing: Outdoor activity permitted (as per Performing Arts guidance)

Performances: Outdoor events permitted. Indoor events – seated and ambulatory permitted, not grouped standing. Restrictions for non-professionals playing instruments/singing together apply. 

Groups making music with children / young people under 18

On 5th October, Scottish Government published this guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): organised activities for children: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-organised-activities-for-children/pages/overview/

It covers unregulated activities and services for children and young people, that are voluntary, third sector, parent or peer led or unregulated providers delivering a service or activity directly to children under 18. We think our members delivering music activity for children are most likely to fall into this category. Schools, regulated childcare and youth work are covered in separate guidance.  

What does the guidance say?

This guidance specifically references music as follows:

“music and drama activities should take place only in situations where they comply with the low risk criteria in group settings… Individual lessons where 2 metre physical distancing can be applied, should only be considered where the environment is well ventilated and equipment is not shared and other mitigating risk approaches can be safely put in place, such as singer not facing the teacher. More creative solutions are recommended at this time including virtual lessons, rehearsals and performances, using digital forms of communication, carry even less risk and are the recommended position at this time. Choirs, orchestras and group drama performances should not recommence at this point.”

It also specifically references singing as follows:

“… singing, especially in groups, is considered a higher risk activity at present because of the potential for aerosol production and the absence presently of developed scientific analysis to assess this specific risk. The risk is lower for younger children, but as this would usually involve adults as well as children participating, it is recommended that singing indoors does not take place inside premises where organised activities for children and young people can be carried out, at this time. Some of the risk is reduced if the activity is taken outdoors.  It will be up to each individual group/organisation/service provider to consider how or if this can be done safely.”

What can groups do?
Under the Protection Levels framework, unregulated children’s activities are allowed to continue in Levels 0 – 3, and not at all in Level 4. 

However, guidance advises at all Protection Levels:

  • Choirs and orchestras should not recommence
  • No singing at all indoors
  • Singing outdoors - up to the organisation to consider how/if it can be done safely
  • Individual lessons only with 2m distancing, ventilation and other mitigations, but digital recommended. 

New guidance for the festive period has been released by the Sottish Government. This restates the existing guidance and does not change anything. As such the guidance below applies to activity over the festive period.

From 2 November, the Scottish Government will adopt a strategic approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection. Whether your group can organise a live music event will be dependent on what protection level applies to your area on the date of your event.

Initial levels will be set for each local authority area across Scotland from 2 November and then reviewed weekly to decide whether levels should be maintained, increased, or reduced. You can check which protection level your area is in on the Scottish Government website https://www.gov.scot/check-local-covid-level

From Friday 20 November, it will be illegal for people living in level three or level four areas to travel outside their own council area and for people living elsewhere in Scotland to travel in to level 3 or level 4 areas, except for essential purposes.

This may present further challenges to your activity, as it may restrict the movement of some of your audience even if  performances are allowed in your area. Professional musicians will be allowed to travel for work purposes. 

What does the guidance say?

The heading in Scotland’s Strategic Framework that applies to live-music events is:

  • Stadia and Events – applies to putting on performances indoors and outdoors. 

Where permitted, Scottish Government  events guidance provides guidance for all event organisers, from small to very large, outdoors and indoors. Refer to this for mitigations appropriate to the size and nature of your activity e.g. in Overview

“Outdoor seated live events – Attendees must have allocated seats for the duration of the event - either physical seats or marked areas on the ground which households must sit within … Event organisers must ensure that seating allows for physical distancing to be practised. Attendees must be able to enter and exit the event at fixed points only so numbers can be controlled and contact details collected. Event organisers should ensure that attendees do not congregate in certain areas (such as toilets, entry/exit or refreshment points) which could make physical distancing difficult. Capacity should be calculated based on ensuring 2m physical distancing up to a limit of 200 attendees at any one time.” N.B. Refer to full guidance for all advised mitigations.

What can groups do?

Levels 2, 3 and 4

Performances: Events not permitted – (except drive-in events at Level 2 only)

Level 1

Performances: Outdoor events permitted – seated and open space, not grouped standing. Small seated indoor events permitted. 

Level 0

Performances: Outdoor events permitted. Indoor events – seated and ambulatory permitted, not grouped standing. 

 

Following some initial confusion regarding guidance about moving out of the fire break regulations on 9 November we now have a clearer picture. 

There are 3 bits of relevant guidance

  1. The Health Protection Regulations 2020
  2. Guidance on leaving your home and seeing other people: coronavirus 
  3. Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts : Guidelines for phased return 

 

  1. The Health Protection Regulations 2020

The Public health guidance allows for organised events and activity in groups of 15 indoors and 30 outdoors.

“Prohibition on organising events 7

(1) No person may, without a reasonable excuse, be involved in organising

(a) an event held wholly or mainly indoors at which more than 15 people are in attendance, or

(b) an event held wholly or mainly outdoors at which more than 30 people are in attendance, 11 not including persons under the age of 11 or persons working, or providing voluntary services, at the event.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1)—

(a) a person is not involved in organising an event if the person’s only involvement is attending it;

(b) a reasonable excuse includes where the person has taken all reasonable measures to ensure that no more than 15 or 30 people are in attendance, as the case may be;

(c) the following are not to be treated as events

(i) the showing of a film;

(ii) a market;

(iii) a religious service;

(iv) a sporting event at which only elite athletes are competing. “

Likewise, section 6 Restriction on gatherings in public places allows for an individual to attend and event of 15 people indoors and 30 out.

There is no mention of music activity being excluded in either section 6 or 7.

Music is specifically mentioned at section 8 Prohibition on organising certain unlicensed music

The focus of this events with an audience so we don’t think relates to rehearsals.

  1. Guidance on leaving your home and seeing other people: coronavirus 

The relevant section of this guidance is Organised Activity, which, like the Public Health guidance, states that it is possible for organised activities in groups of 15 people indoors and 30 outdoors to take place.

Organised activity is “..organised by a business, public body or charitable institution, club, political organisation or national governing body of a sport or other activity.”, this should cover most music groups and means they can meet to rehearse in groups of 15 people indoors and 30 outdoors.

The guidance provides a list of rules and measures that should be in place for any organised activity to take place, which you should read this before organising any activity.  

The rules do specifically mention singing and wind (they don’t mention brass, unlike the Performing Arts Guidance (section 3 below) that puts singing, wind and brass together. We are following the Performing Arti Guidance and treating singing, wind and brass as the same.

“Singing, chanting, shouting or the use of wind instruments are considered to be high risk activities and should generally be avoided, especially indoors, even where physical distancing and face coverings are used. If these do take place, the organisers of the activity must take extensive mitigating actions, otherwise they may be failing to meet their statutory duty to take all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”

This does allow for singing, wind and brass groups to meet – but clearly places greater emphasis on mitigating measures (see Meeting to rehearse safely below)

The Coronavirus regulations from 9 November: frequently asked questions document does contradict this. in the Community centres section is states ‘the advice remains that singing, shouting and chanting should be avoided… There are also some musical instruments such as wind instruments which should not be played indoors.’

We have been told that the Organised activity guidance (above) and the Performing Arts Guidance (below) trumps this. So singing and wind activity is allowed – but with extra mitigating measures.

 

  1. Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts : Guidelines for phased return 

This was published in September and applies to professional and non-professional groups.

Section 3.19 covers Singing, Wind and Brass and has always allowed for these activities to take place – but with additional measures in place to mitigate risks.

This guidance does not specifically mention the 15/30 limit and without being explicit does seem suggest groups can meet in larger numbers in some places. 

However, it is unclear and also suggests the limits are in place elsewhere, again without being explicit. 

We think it is better to err on the side of caution and stick to the 15 / 30 limits.

Travel between England and Wales

Travel over the Wales-England boarder to a Tier 3 area in England is only allowed where there is a reasonable excuse. Examples of reasonable excuses include: travelling for work, education, a medical appointment, legal requirement or compassionate grounds. This means that groups for Wales with members living in Tier 3 area in England, those members cannot travel to Wales for rehearsals. If the members live in a Tier 1 or 2 area they could travel. 

So, what can my group do?

All Goups can meet to rehearse. This should be limited to 15 indoors and 30 outdoors.

All groups should have measures in place to minimise and mitigate risks. Singing, wind and brass should have extensive measures in place.

Meeting to rehearse safely

Whether meeting indoors or out it is paramount that you meet safely and in a COVID secure way:

The leaving your home and seeing other people guidance guidance, specifically the Organised Activity section has some general rules organiser should follow, which you should read.

For music groups the Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts : Guidelines for phased return has more detailed and specific guidance.

Some general points:

  • The guidance makes no distinction between professional and non-professional groups (unlike the English equivalent) – the inference being is 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

Whilst 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

 

The new performing arts guidance talks about getting ready for welcoming live audiences. 

Gatherings outdoors https://gov.wales/coronavirus-regulations-guidance 

What are the limits on who I can meet outdoors?
Gatherings of up to 30 people are now permitted outdoors. But you should continue to maintain physical and social distancing from people outside your household, or extended household if you have formed one (subject to what is said about young children below).

Do the rules on organised outdoor activities still apply?
Outdoor gatherings no longer need to be organised by a business, a public body or charitable institution, a club, or the national governing body of sport or other activity. Social distancing should still be maintained between people who are not part of the same household (or extended household).

This is repeated in this guidance: https://gov.wales/guidance-leaving-your-home-and-seeing-other-people-coronavirus

Organised outdoor activities, including team sports and classes, involving up to 30 people are also allowed to take place. If this is being organised in a work setting, the person responsible has a duty to carry out an appropriate risk assessment in advance and take all reasonable measures to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus. Those organising such events will generally hold a duty of care to those attending the gathering, which means they should ensure the event is as safe as possible. 

Theatres and concert halls are not yet open for performances with a live audience: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-regulations-guidance#section-46358 

When will theatres or concert halls reopen?
Not yet. We have published guidance for the phased re-opening of culture and heritage destinations, which includes guidance for the re-opening of theatres and concert halls.

However, it does appear that theatres, community centres and concert halls and similar are able to be open for the broadcast via internet, radio or TV of events without a live audience: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-closure-businesses-and-premises-html

Business, premises or place  Exceptions
Community centres, youth centres and similar These are allowed to open for activities allowable in the Regulations and to provide public services without having to seek approval from local authorities. 
Theatres Performances/sessions may be broadcast without an audience, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast. It is recommended that Public Health Wales guidelines are followed to ensure the safety of staff taking part.
Concert halls and other live music venues Performances/sessions may be broadcast without an audience, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast. It is recommended that Public Health Wales guidelines are followed to ensure the safety of staff taking part.

What can groups do? 

  • Hold outdoor concerts of up to 30 people people (in total, including performers and organisers). 

  • Organise online livestream performances, with artists performing from their own homes. Read the Making Music guidance on livestreaming, including our livestreaming subsidy. 

  • Organise online livestreamed performances or recordings with artists performing from a venue (see above)

  • Plan for how to return safely in larger groups outdoors and indoors with a live audience when the official guidance changes. See our risk assessment guidance and template for more information

Read the official guidance.  

 

As of 27 November new restrictions are in place for Northern Ireland that will last until 23.59 on 10 December.  

Under these restrictions:

  • Theatres, concert halls and other cultural attractions are not permitted to open.
  • Outdoor visitor attractions are not permitted to open.
  • Drive-in events are also not permitted.
  • Community halls are allowed to remain open, but must adhere to current guidelines – which means a maximum of 15 people in attendance.
  • Concert venues are permitted to open for a live recording without an audience.

What can groups do? 

 

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? 

As of 27 November new restrictions are in place for Northern Ireland that will last until 23.59 on 10 December. These do not significantly change how individuals and groups can meet to rehearse.

In a private home / dwelling

  • 6 people from up to 2 households can rehearse outdoors in a private garden.
  • Two Households can form an exclusive bubble and meet indoors up to a maximum of ten people. 

Indoor and outdoor gatherings (excluding private homes / dwellings:

  • The maximum number who can meet indoors or outdoors is 15.
  • There are no exemptions for cultural, community, social activities.

See the official government guidance for more inforation.  

What can groups do? 

  • Rehearse outdoors in a private garden with up to 6 people from two households. 
  • Individuals from two household who have formed an exclusive bubble can meet to rehearse in a private home, up to a maximum of 10 people.

  • Rehearse indoors or outdoors - not in a private home or garden in groups of up to 15.

In all instances the organiser must have carried 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. 

For more information: