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 20 January 2022, performances 20 January 2022 
  • Northern Ireland: rehearsals 5 January 2022, and performances 5 January 2022  
  • Scotland: rehearsals 18 January 2022, and performances 18 January 2022
  • Wales: rehearsals 5 January 2022, and performances 5 January 2022

What country is your group based in?

Do you want:  

England is currently under Plan B. This is not a lockdown but does mean some new restrictions are in place. So, rehearsals can continue to go ahead but you might have to adjust some of the measures you have in place. As far as we can see, the only impact for rehearsals will be around face coverings (see below).

England will move back to Plan A on Thursday 27 January when face covering and covid passport requirements will be removed.

What can my group do?

  • There remain no limits on the number of people that can gather to rehearse indoors or outdoors - this includes choirs.
  • There is no requirement to socially distance. 
  • Encourage members to use lateral flows tests before attending 

Covid-19 risks still remain and are increased due to the Omicron variant. Groups should revisit their risk assessment and the measures they have in place to ensure they are providing a safe environment. A key part of this will be highlighting the need for continued vigilance to members and guarding against complacency.


Covid secure rehearsals

The government Events and Attractions guidance is the relevant guidance for groups and covers how they should operate.

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

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

You can use the Making Music risk assessment guidance and template (designed in line with the new Events and Attractions guidance) to help with this. 

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 key considerations  

  • 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 encouraging them to take lateral flow tests every time before attending.
  • Airborne transmission remains the biggest risk, so good ventilation will still be important. This does not mean you have to be cold – use heating as well.
  • Regular hand washing and/or hand sanitising 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: under plan B face coverings are legally required in most public indoor venues. This means that face coverings are required at indoor rehearsals, with some exemptions (see below) 

The below summarises the face covering situation for Plan B. It has been announced that face coverings will no longer required indoor when England moves back to Plan A on Thursday 27 January. We assume this will include music activities. We will look for updates to the Events and Attractions guidance regarding the move back to Plan A and update this page as soon as we can.

The Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own guidance details an exemption for singing: 

“There is a reasonable excuse for someone to remove a face covering when it is reasonably necessary for them to sing, for example, if they are singing as part of a choir, or during a service, rehearsal or for a performance.

This does not extend to circumstances where it is not reasonably necessary to sing. For example, it may not be reasonably necessary for someone to sing whilst shopping, on public transport, or whilst in an in-scope setting such as a cinema, theatre or library.

This change allows those who are taking part in activities where singing is reasonably necessary to choose to remove their face covering if they prefer while singing.” 

The Events and attractions guidance provides more information on exemptions and has a specific sections for Amateur performing arts productions and activities:

If a rehearsal has been organised as part of the performance (e.g. arranged by the organisation or venue they are performing for), amateur performers are exempt from wearing face coverings while they are rehearsing or doing other activities which are part of the performance.

This exemption does not apply to other rehearsals or amateur performing arts activities (for example, if a group of people decide to book a venue to rehearse and it is not organised as part of the performance preparation).”

Our interpretation of this is that:

  • the exemption applies to rehearsals taking place on the day of the performance
  • it does not apply to rehearsals in the weeks leading up to a performance.

The guidance goes on to say:

“If a rehearsal which has not been organised as part of the performance preparation takes place in a venue where face coverings are required, performers and other crew members must wear face coverings during rehearsals and other activities. There are some limited exceptions to this when people could remove their face coverings:

Face coverings should not be worn during strenuous activities, including exercising, dancing, and when moving heavy scenery and equipment.

Performers can remove their face coverings if it is reasonably necessary for them to do so, such as to play a musical instrument, or to sing (if they feel they need to remove their face covering to do so). However, they should be encouraged to keep their face coverings on if they can.

Performers may wish to avoid taking their face covering off and putting it back on a lot in quick succession. This means for mixed roles (e.g. those which involve a mixture of singing and speaking), the performer can choose to remove their face covering for the duration of their rehearsal if they prefer.”

It is clear form this that any exemptions only apply to performers whilst singing or playing, and that face coverings should be worn at all other times.

However, it does open up the possibility of not wearing a face covering whilst singing / playing during rehearsals in the weeks leading up to the performance (contrary to the first section).

It is worth noting that the guidance encourages the use of face coverings, but allows removal where ‘reasonably necessary’:

  • For wind and brass players, it is clearly reasonably necessary to remove them.
  • For singing, strings and percussion/keys it is more of a grey area – it is possible to wear a face covering – but there might be reasons not to. It is up to groups and individuals to decide how to apply this exemption. If the exemption is being used, we suggest the use and justification should form part of you risk assessment. See our separate resource on face coverings for more info. 

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.

Covid Certification: are be required for large events but should not affect rehearsals. This will be removed when England moves back to plan A 

England is under Plan B restrictions. This is not a lockdown but does mean some new restrictions are in place. Performances can continue to go ahead but you might have to adjust some of the measures you have in place. As far as we can see the only impact will be around face coverings (see below) and Covid certification for larger events. 

England will move back to plan A on Thursday 27 January when face covering and covid passport requirements will be removed.

What can my group do?

  • Public performances can go ahead without any limit on audience numbers
  • Social distancing measures are not required
  • Encourage all attendees to use lateral flows tests before attending 

Covid-19 risks still remain and are increased due to the Omicron variant. Groups should revisit their risk assessment and the measures they have in place to ensure they are providing a safe environment. A key part of this will be highlighting the need for continued vigilance to attendees and guarding against complacency. 


Covid Secure Events

The government Events and Attractions guidance is the relevant guidance for groups and venues and covers how to operate.

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.

You can use the Making Music risk assessment guidance and template (designed in line with the new Events and Attractions guidance) to help with this. 

Face coverings

Under plan B face coverings are legally required in most public indoor venues. This means face coverings should be worn by everyone attending the event in any capacity. This includes performers, but with exemptions for when actually performing (see below).  

The below summarises the face covering situation for Plan B. It has been announced that face coverings will no longer required indoor when England moves back to Plan A on Thursday 27 January. We assume this will include for music activities. We will look for updates to the Events and Attractions guidance regarding the move back to Plan A and update this page as soon as we can.

The Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own guidance details an exemption for singing: 

“There is a reasonable excuse for someone to remove a face covering when it is reasonably necessary for them to sing, for example, if they are singing as part of a choir, or during a service, rehearsal or for a performance.

This does not extend to circumstances where it is not reasonably necessary to sing. For example, it may not be reasonably necessary for someone to sing whilst shopping, on public transport, or whilst in an in-scope setting such as a cinema, theatre or library.

This change allows those who are taking part in activities where singing is reasonably necessary to choose to remove their face covering if they prefer while singing.” 

The Events and attractions guidance provides more information on exemptions and has a specific sections for Amateur performing arts productions and activities: 

"People performing in amateur performing arts activities (such as amateur theatre productions and choir groups) are not required to wear face coverings during a performance with an audience, or which is being recorded for an intended audience, in any venue. This extends to anyone performing (for example, acting, singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument).

This exemption applies to performers, and does not apply to other people who are involved in the performance (such as crew members, lighting technicians and ushers). If the performance takes place in a venue where face coverings are required, people who are not performing must wear a face covering (unless they are exempt) when they are in areas open to the public and where they are likely to come into contact with the public. They can remove their face covering when they have a reasonable excuse, for example when they are doing strenuous activity such as moving heavy equipment. They are not required to wear a face covering when they are in areas which are not open to the public, such as backstage areas.

Audience members must wear face coverings if the performance takes place in a venue where face coverings are required. Where singing is reasonably necessary (such as a sing-a-long event, or an event with audience participation such as carol singing), the event organiser should ask audiences to keep their face coverings on throughout the performance (including while they are singing) if they can.”

It is clear form this that ant exemptions only apply to performers, and only when they are actually singing or playing. For all other attendees, and performers when they are not singing or playing, face coverings should be worn.

The guidance goes onto say in the Rehearsals section:

"If a rehearsal has been organised as part of the performance (e.g. arranged by the organisation or venue they are performing for), amateur performers are exempt from wearing face coverings while they are rehearsing or doing other activities which are part of the performance."

Our interpretation is this is that for final rehearsals on the day of the performance face coverings do not have to be worn.

Covid Certification

Under Plan B some events will be required by law to check the COVID status of anyone attending, using the NHS COVID Pass. This only applies to larger events: 

  • unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees
  • unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees 
  • any event with 10,000 or more attendees. 

Anyone attending these type of events (in any capacity) must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative in the last 48 hours.

We don’t expect this will impact many members. Where it is required, you can reasonably expect venues to be taking care of it – but do check with them to understand what they are doing and if you need to assist. And of course, communicate with audiences.

This requirement will be removed when England moves back to Plan A, but venues will be able to continue asking the passports if they wish.

With the increasing prevalence of the Omicron variant the Scottish Government have updated the relevant guidance for music groups (16 Dec). However, these changes do not mean that music group activities have to be cancelled.

  • There are currently no restrictions that would prohibit rehearsal or performances from taking place.
  • From 27 December, a 1 metre physical distancing requirement is in place for live events. A “live event” is defined as an event or activity which brings individuals together for the purpose of community, culture, sport, recreation, entertainment, art or business.
  • Encourage members to use lateral flows tests before attending.

Social activities: the Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying safe and protecting others guidance (Christmas and Festive period section) states:

“To help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, and in light of the additional transmissibility of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, you should limit the amount of social contact you have with other people.  Please gather in small groups of no more than three households, take a lateral flow test before you meet and increase ventilation where possible.”

Organised group music activities (rehearsal and performances) are not social activities – and so are not impacted by the above.

However, if you group organises a social activity (like some Christmas drinks), they would fall under and have to follow the above guidance. This would include if the social activity preceded or followed an organised activity (rehearsal / performance).

Capacity limits

New capacity limits came into forcce on 26 December. The limits to size are:

  • 100 people at indoor standing events
  • 200 people at indoor seating events
  • 500 people at outdoor events (seated or standing)

This does not apply to private life events such as weddings

Rehearsal can ahead if they are within these limits – and of course should still have other reasonable measure in place to minimise the spread of COVID-19 (see below). 


Guidance that applies to non-professional arts (Making Music members)

Scottish Government states that all businesses and workplaces should still follow the guidance on working safely during coronavirus. This is designed to set out generic guidance to replace the large amount of sector specific guidance in place under earlier stages of the response to the pandemic. Scottish Government have now archived Performing Arts and Venues sector guidance including guidance for non-professional arts and do not intend to re-publish it. 

Under the working safely during coronavirus guidance:

  • all businesses can open with protective measures
  • From 27 December, a 1 metre physical distancing requirement is in place for live events. A “live event” is defined as an event or activity which brings individuals together for the purpose of community, culture, sport, recreation, entertainment, art or business.
  • from 26 December capacity limits will be in place:
    • 100 people at indoor standing events
    • 200 people at indoor seating events
    • 500 people at outdoor events (seated or standing)

Mandatory precautionary measures are:

  • Apply 1m physical distancing: From 27 December, at live events and in cultural venues, 1 metre physical distancing between groups is now required. A group of people attending together are not required to physical distance - A maximum of 3 households is recommended within any group attending together.
  • Take reasonable measures to minimise the incidence and spread of coronavirus: You should re-visit your risk assessment in light of the increased risk level in the community.
  • Wear a face covering: By law, face coverings must continue to be worn in most indoor public places (including indoor communal spaces, workplaces and public transport) unless you are exempt. Exemptions for people rehearsing or performing remain, but the distancing requirement is now 2 metres (see Face coverings below).
  • Self-isolate when symptoms first appear / if you have been identified as a close contact of a positive case and support others to. Make sure you know the rules on self-isolation. Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect - gov.scot (www.gov.scot). Being double vaccinated does not necessarily mean you don’t have to self-isolate.

Advisory precautionary measures are:

  • Good hand hygiene and surface cleaning including: include, for example:
    • providing access to sanitiser and hand-washing facilities
    • regular cleaning of equipment, chairs, work stations and break out areas
  • Good ventilation 

See the full guidance for cultural performances : Coronavirus (COVID-19): cultural performances and events guidance - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Face coverings

In Scotland, it remains mandatory to wear a face covering in most indoor public spaces. Read the Scottish Government guidance on face coverings. You must, by law, wear a face covering in entertainment venues, leisure facilities, community centres and places of worship – all the environments that rehearsals are likely to take place.

There are some exemptions which include if a person is:

“performing, rehearsing for a performance, presenting, addressing a public gathering, making a speech or being a panel member, where—

  • there is a partition between the person and other persons, or
  • a distance of at least two metres is maintained between the person and other persons “

and 

“ a child who is under 12 years of age”

The law was changed on 17 December to move from 1 metre distance required to 2 metre distance required. We have no indication when this will next be revised. The law was changed on 3 September to clarify that rehearsing for a performance is an activity where people are exempt from wearing face coverings (with distancing). However, the Coronavirus (COVID-19): cultural performances and events guidance clarifies that: “The exemption relates to “rehearsing for a performance” and not to organisations or groups which might rehearse regularly indoors but without a final performance intended or planned.”

In legislation, there is an exemption from maintaining a 2 metre distance/partitioning for performers who remove face coverings if doing so would ‘materially impede’ a performance or rehearsal. Scottish Government clarified in a re-wording of guidance on 14 January 2021 that this means “Performers are able to perform or rehearse for a performance without face coverings ... where the wearing of a face covering is not possible, and two-metre distancing or partitioning is not possible.” Previous guidance that this does not apply to orchestras and choirs has been removed. Guidance says that this exemption should be the exception rather than the norm and that organisers should, as part of their risk assessments, be able to explain how face coverings and 2m distancing/partitioning would materially impede the performance or rehearsal.

We would therefore advise that:

Face coverings must be worn indoors (mandatory, legal requirement) by everyone (unless they are exempt) at all times when not in place.

Children under 12 years old are exempt. Young people aged 12 to 18 are not exempt and must follow the same requirement as for adults

When in place, people are permitted to remove face coverings to play an instrument or to sing but ONLY if they remain at least 2m physically distanced from all other people or there is a partition.

If people are able to play while wearing a face covering (e.g. string instruments) the face covering should still be worn.

When face covering are not worn, physical distancing of at least 2m should be applied and other mitigations such as screens used to reduce risk.  Mitigations such as good ventilation and enhanced hygiene should always be used to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission.

If performers need to remove a face covering to sing/play and it will ‘materially impede’ a rehearsal/ performance for them to remain 2m apart/be partitioned, it would be permitted to place them closer together/not partition. You should justify your decision to do so in a risk assessment and ensure there are other mitigations in place.  

As a precautionary mitigation, it is still advisable to wear a face covering while singing and use adapted face coverings and shields for wind instruments. See our resource on face coverings and singing.

With the increasing prevalence of the Omicron variant the Scottish Government have updated the relevant guidance for music groups (16 Dec). However, these changes do not mean that music group performances have to be cancelled.

  • There are currently no restrictions that would prohibit rehearsal or performances from taking place.
  • From 27 December, a 1 metre physical distancing requirement is in place for live events. A “live event” is defined as an event or activity which brings individuals together for the purpose of community, culture, sport, recreation, entertainment, art or business.
  • Encourage all attendees to use lateral flows tests.

Capacity limits

New capacity limits came inro force on 26 December. The limits to size are:

  • 100 people at indoor standing events
  • 200 people at indoor seating events
  • 500 people at outdoor events (seated or standing)

This does not apply to private life events such as weddings

Performances can ahead if they are within these limits – and of course should still have other reasonable measure in place to minimise the spread of COVID-19 (see below).


Guidance that applies to non-professional arts (Making Music members)

Scottish Government states that all businesses and workplaces should still follow the guidance on working safely during coronavirus. This is designed to set out generic guidance to replace the large amount of sector specific guidance in place under earlier stages of the response to the pandemic. Scottish Government have now archived Performing Arts and Venues sector guidance including guidance for non-professional arts and do not intend to re-publish it. 

Under the working safely during coronavirus guidance:

  • all businesses can open with protective measures
  • From 27 December, a 1 metre physical distancing requirement is in place for live events. A “live event” is defined as an event or activity which brings individuals together for the purpose of community, culture, sport, recreation, entertainment, art or business.
  • from 26 December capacity limits will be in place:
    • 100 people at indoor standing events
    • 200 people at indoor seating events
    • 500 people at outdoor events (seated or standing)

Mandatory precautionary measures are:

  • Apply 1m physical distancing: From 27 December, at live events and in cultural venues, 1 metre physical distancing between groups is now required. A group of people attending together are not required to physical distance - A maximum of 3 households is recommended within any group attending together.
  • Take reasonable measures to minimise the incidence and spread of coronavirus: You should re-visit your risk assessment in light of the increased risk level in the community.
  • Wear a face covering: By law, face coverings must continue to be worn in most indoor public places (including indoor communal spaces, workplaces and public transport) unless you are exempt. Exemptions for people rehearsing or performing remain unchanged (see Face coverings below).” It should read “Exemptions for people rehearsing or performing remain, but the distancing requirement is now 2 metres (see Face coverings below).
  • Self-isolate when symptoms first appear / if you have been identified as a close contact of a positive case and support others to. Make sure you know the rules on self-isolation. Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect - gov.scot (www.gov.scot). Being double vaccinated does not necessarily mean you don’t have to self-isolate.
  • Comply with the Certification Scheme: There has been no change to venues/events where people are required to provide Covid status certificates. If your event is seated and for less than 10,000 people it will not be required to be part of the certification scheme (see Covid Certification below)

Advisory precautionary measures are:

  • Good hand hygiene and surface cleaning including: include, for example:
    • providing access to sanitiser and hand-washing facilities
    • regular cleaning of equipment, chairs, work stations and break out areas
  • Good ventilation 
  • You can refer audiences to the Staying safe and protecting others section of the guidance (see the 'Events and performances' section)  

Cultural Performance and events guidance

Scottish Government also refers organisations to this published guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): cultural performances and events guidance – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

The Guidance details some general additional precaution measures and some additional precautionary measure for keeping performers safe. 

“Steps in addition to the precautionary measures might include:

  • requiring customers to pre-book tickets
  • retaining table service in hospitality offerings
  • keeping physical distancing for performances where tickets were sold on the basis of physical distancing
  • staggering start times where possible
  • putting in place processes to control the flow of people in and out of buildings, as well as within buildings (for example, one-way systems)
  • having physical distancing in certain seating sections or performances

There are a number of additional precautionary measures which can address the safety of performers and those closely working with them:

  • a robust testing regime, usually beyond the minimum requirements and including daily lateral flow tests, or a testing facility being available on site and, where possible, a weekly PCR test
  • restaging where necessary and possible. This means avoiding face-to-face interactions or limiting the amount of time face-to-face interactions happen or keeping them above one metre where possible
  • minimising singing and shouting, particularly face to face, where possible, or maintaining at least one metre distancing, back to back singing where possible
  • close cohort working and fixed groups/bubbles, maintaining distancing between backstage and front of house teams and avoiding prolonged contact
  • staggered arrival and departure times to avoid congestion
  • working with participants to refresh their memories on precautionary measures, and discussion of safety concerns
  • tight contact tracing procedures
  • physical distancing of at least one metre when not actively involved in rehearsal
  • face coverings worn at all times when not rehearsing or performing
  • the Federation of Scottish Theatre can provide further good practice guidance on health and safety including in relation to COVID-19 “

Face coverings

In Scotland, it remains mandatory to wear a face covering in most indoor public spaces. Read the Scottish Government guidance on face coverings. You must, by law, wear a face covering in entertainment venues, leisure facilities, community centres and places of worship – all the environments that performances are likely to take place.

There are some exemptions which include if a person is:

“performing, rehearsing for a performance, presenting, addressing a public gathering, making a speech or being a panel member, where—

  • there is a partition between the person and other persons, or
  • a distance of at least two metres is maintained between the person and other persons “

and 

“ a child who is under 12 years of age”

The law was changed on 17 December to move from 1 metre distance required to 2 metre distance required. We have no indication when this will next be revised. The law was changed on 3 September to clarify that rehearsing for a performance is an activity where people are exempt from wearing face coverings (with distancing). However, the Coronavirus (COVID-19): cultural performances and events guidance clarifies that: “The exemption relates to “rehearsing for a performance” and not to organisations or groups which might rehearse regularly indoors but without a final performance intended or planned.”

In legislation, there is an exemption from maintaining a 2 metre distance/partitioning for performers who remove face coverings if doing so would ‘materially impede’ a performance or rehearsal. Scottish Government clarified in a re-wording of guidance on 14 January 2021 that this means “Performers are able to perform or rehearse for a performance without face coverings ... where the wearing of a face covering is not possible, and two-metre distancing or partitioning is not possible.” Previous guidance that this does not apply to orchestras and choirs has been removed. Guidance says that this exemption should be the exception rather than the norm and that organisers should, as part of their risk assessments, be able to explain how face coverings and 2m distancing/partitioning would materially impede the performance or rehearsal.

We would therefore advise that:

Face coverings must be worn indoors (mandatory, legal requirement) by everyone (unless they are exempt) at all times when not in place.

Children under 12 years old are exempt. Young people aged 12 to 18 are not exempt and must follow the same requirement as for adults.

When in place, people are permitted to remove face coverings to play an instrument or to sing but ONLY if they remain at least 2m physically distanced from all other people or there is a partition.

If people are able to play while wearing a face covering (e.g. string instruments) the face covering should still be worn.

When face covering are not worn, physical distancing of at least 2m should be applied and other mitigations such as screens used to reduce risk.  Mitigations such as good ventilation and enhanced hygiene should always be used to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission.

If performers need to remove a face covering to sing/play and it will ‘materially impede’ a rehearsal/ performance for them to remain 2m apart/be partitioned, it would be permitted to place them closer together/not partition. You should justify your decision to do so in a risk assessment and ensure there are other mitigations in place.  

As a precautionary mitigation, it is still advisable to wear a face covering while singing and use adapted face coverings and shields for wind instruments. See our resource on face coverings and singing.

Covid Certification

A Covid vaccine certificate is required for over 18s to enter:

  • late night premises with music, which serve alcohol at any time between midnight and 5 am and have a designated place for dancing for customers
  • indoor events (unseated) with 500 or more people
  • outdoor events (unseated) with 4,000 or more people
  • any event with more than 10,000 people

The certificate must show:

We don’t expect this will impact many members. Where it is required, you can reasonably expect venues to be taking care of it – but do check with them to understand what they are doing and if you need to assist. And of course, communicate with audiences.  

Wales is at alert level 2 which does mean new some new restrictions are in place. However, rehearsals can still take place – but with restrictions on numbers and with new required measures.

Groups should re-visit their risk assessments in light of the increased risk level and new restrictions and decide if their activities are still viable and/or if new measures are needed to stay safe. (See Covid Secure rehearsals below)

What can my group do?

Outdoors: 

  • Outdoor events can take place but with a total limit of 50 people.
  • So outdoor rehearsal with up to 50 people are fine.
  • Encourage members to use lateral flows tests before attending.
  • Social distancing and face coverings are not required outdoors

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

Indoors: 

  • Indoor events can take place with a total limit of 30 people. So indoor rehearsals with up to 30 people are fine (also see social activity below)
  • You are required to observe 2-metre social distancing.
  • Face coverings remain a legal requirement
    • We are not sure the possible exemption for singing has been removed (see Face coverings below) but the Making Music’s recommendation is that you wear face coverings whilst singing.
  • Encourage members to use lateral flows tests before attending.

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


COVID secure rehearsals

Previously Wales issued guidance called ‘Keep Wales Safe: creating COVID-aware events’. This has now been withdrawn and groups should follow the more general Alert level 2: guidance for employers, businesses and organisations. It has four key steps:

  1. Carry out a specific coronavirus risk assessment

See the Making Music Risk Assessment guidance and template for more information.

  1. Providing information

Provide clear information to everyone involved on your activities so they understand what measures will be in place and what is expected of them. Our risk assessment guidance has more details.

  1. Step 3: distance of 2 metres between all persons is maintained

    "Regulation 16 sets out an obligation to ‘Take all reasonable measures’ to ensure:

    (a)       that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons indoors on the premises, except between members of a permitted group;

    (b)       where persons are required to wait indoors to enter the premises, that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between them, except between members of a permitted group" 

(see Physical distancing below)

  1. Other reasonable measures

The point of the risk assessment is to understand the level of risk involved on your activities and then have measures in place to reduce those risks. The Alert level 2: guidance for employers, businesses and organisation lists what some of these might be. We have highlighted some below – and you can find more information on all of them in our Risk assessment guidance:

  • Stop people who: have symptoms, have tested positive or has been in close contact with some who has symptoms / tested, from coming to your rehearsal.Gather outdoors where possible
  • Good ventilation for indoor spaces
  • Good hygiene  - e.g. cleaning, shared surfaces and hand washing
  • Limiting phyisical interation
  • Controlling the flow of people

Physical distancing

The guidance sates:

“From 26 December all businesses and services are required to put in place measures to maintain 2m social distancing; this could include measures such as physical barriers and one way systems.

Scope for physical distancing on premises is to an extent constrained by the size of premises; however, regardless of the size of the premises, the starting point is that consideration must be given to how people could be kept physically apart and how close face to face interaction could be prevented or minimised."”

It also mentions singing specifically:

“…having greater physical distancing when strenuous exercise or singing is involved, or improving ventilation in busier indoor areas.”

Face coverings:

The guidance sates:

“Everyone aged 11 and over must continue to wear face-coverings in indoor public places..."

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 also states a covering is not required where there is “…a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering”. 

There is also a specific question about choirs that covers face coverings in the Alert level 2: frequently asked questions:

"The maximum number of people who can take part in choir or band practice and rehearsals is 30 indoors and 50 outdoors. Businesses, employers and other organisations, including activity and event organisers, must undertake a bespoke coronavirus risk assessment of their premises and activities and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to, and the spread of, coronavirus based on that bespoke risk assessment.

Singing or chanting increases the amount of aerosol expelled into the air from people’s mouths. Reducing the amount of singing or stopping singing can help to reduce the risk of transmission.

If singing or chanting takes place, including as part of a choir, other mitigations should be put in place as part of the covid-specific risk assessment. Practical mitigations could include improving ventilation, moving the activity outdoors, increasing the space between people, or having fewer people present.

The requirement to wear face-coverings could be one for the reasonable measures identified as part of your COVID specific risk assessment. However this will come down to your assessment of all the risks and the suite of mitigations you can practically put in place.”

As the FAQ focuses on singing and chanting our interpretation is that:

  • Not wearing a face covering whilst singing could be deemed a reasonable excuse – and so may not be necessary.
  • It does not apply to non-singing time, and so face masks should still be worn at inside rehearsals whilst not actually singing.  

Whilst the FAQ does allow for a group to decide there are some important things to note:

  • The decision should be based on a risk assessment
  • The guidance does highlight the increased risk of singing and this should be a factor in any decision
  • Not wearing face covering whilst singing should only be considered if other mitigations are in place to reduce the risk.

Read our Risk assessment for COVID secure rehearsals guidance and our guidance on face coverings and singing to find out more.

Face coverings for Wind and Brass: There is not an FAQ for wind and brass but we think playing a wind and brass instrument would be a reasonable excuse for not wearing a face covering, but you might consider bell covers for the instruments. Coverings should be worn at indoor rehearsal when not actually playing.

Wales is at alert level 2. Performances can still take place – but with restrictions on numbers and with new required measures.

Groups should re-visit their risk assessments in light of the increased risk level and new restrictions and decide if their performances are still viable and/or if new measures are needed to stay safe. (See Covid Secure events below).

What can my group do? 

Outdoors

  • Outdoor events can take place but with a total limit of 50 people.
  • So outdoor performances with up to 50 people are fine.
  • We are not sure if that is 50 people in total (performance, organisers, audience) or if the limit applies just to audiences. But spectators at community sports games are limited to 50 people, so it is fair to assume the audiences for outside performances is limited to 50 too.
  • Encourage all attendees to use lateral flows tests

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

Indoors

  • Indoor events can take place with a total limit of 30 people. So indoor performances with up to 30 people are fine (also see social activity below)
  • We are not sure if that is 30 people in total (performance, organisers, audience) or if the 30 limit applies just to audiences. Previously at alert level 2 it was audiences limited to 30, with no formal limit on the number of performers / organisers, so we assume it is the same this time. 
  • The requirement to keep 2-metre social distancing measures returns.
  • Face coverings remain a legal requirement
    • We are not sure the possible exemption for singing has been removed (see Face coverings below).
  • Encourage all attendees to use lateral flows tests

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

 


COVID secure events 

Previously Wales issued guidance called ‘Keep Wales Safe: creating COVID-aware events’. This has now been withdrawn and groups should follow the more general Alert level 2: guidance for employers, businesses and organisations. It has four key steps:

  1. Carry out a specific coronavirus risk assessment

See the Making Music Risk Assessment guidance and template for more information.

  1. Providing information

Provide clear information to everyone involved on your activities so they understand what measures will be in place and what is expected of them. Our risk assessment guidance has more details.

  1. Step 3: distance of 2 metres between all persons is maintained

    "Regulation 16 sets out an obligation to ‘Take all reasonable measures’ to ensure:

    (a)       that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between any persons indoors on the premises, except between members of a permitted group;

    (b)       where persons are required to wait indoors to enter the premises, that a distance of 2 metres is maintained between them, except between members of a permitted group" 

(see Physical distancing below)

  1. Other reasonable measures

The point of the risk assessment is to understand the level of risk involved on your activities and then have measures in place to reduce those risks. The Alert level 2: guidance for employers, businesses and organisation lists what some of these might be. We have highlighted some below – and you can find more information on all of them in our Risk assessment guidance:

  • Stop people who: have symptoms, have tested positive or has been in close contact with some who has symptoms / tested, from coming to your rehearsal.Gather outdoors where possible
  • Good ventilation for indoor spaces
  • Good hygiene  - e.g. cleaning, shared surfaces and hand washing
  • Limiting phyisical interation
  • Controlling the flow of people

Physical distancing

The guidance sates:

“From 26 December all businesses and services are required to put in place measures to maintain 2m social distancing; this could include measures such as physical barriers and one way systems.

Scope for physical distancing on premises is to an extent constrained by the size of premises; however, regardless of the size of the premises, the starting point is that consideration must be given to how people could be kept physically apart and how close face to face interaction could be prevented or minimised."”

It also mentions singing specifically:

“…having greater physical distancing when strenuous exercise or singing is involved, or improving ventilation in busier indoor areas.”

Face coverings: The guidance sates:

“Adults and children over 12 must wear face-coverings in indoor public places, with the exception of hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs, cafes or nightclubs.”

The exemption for hospitality seems to be about consuming food and drink - as such we think face coverings should be worn at indoor performances. Aee also our separate guidance on Face coverings and singing.

There is also a specific question about choirs that covers face coverings in the Alert level 2: frequently asked questions guidance:

“What are the rules for choirs?

Businesses, employers and other organisations, including activity and event organisers, must undertake a bespoke coronavirus risk assessment of their premises and activities and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to, and the spread of, coronavirus based on that bespoke risk assessment.

Singing or chanting increases the amount of aerosol expelled into the air from people’s mouths. Reducing the amount of singing or stopping singing can help to reduce the risk of transmission.

If singing or chanting takes place, including as part of a choir, other mitigations should be put in place as part of the covid-specific risk assessment. Practical mitigations could include improving ventilation, moving the activity outdoors, increasing the space between people, or having fewer people present.

The requirement to wear face-coverings could be one for the reasonable measures identified as part of your COVID specific risk assessment. However this will come down to your assessment of all the risks and the suite of mitigations you can practically put in place.”

As the FAQ focuses on singing and chanting our interpretation is that:

  • Not wearing a face covering whilst singing could be deemed a reasonable excuse – and so may not be necessary:
  • It would not apply to non-singing time, and so face masks should still be worn by performers whilst not actually singing.  

Whilst the FAQ does allow for a group to decide there are some important things to note:

  • The decision should be based on a risk assessment
  • The guidance does highlight the increased risk of singing and this should be a factor in any decision
  • Not wearing face covering whilst singing should only be considered if other mitigations are in place to reduce the risk.

Find out more about in our Risk assessment for COVID secure performances guidance and our guidance on face coverings and singing to find out more.

Covid certificate

A Covid certificate is required for all over 18 years old top enter:

  • nightclubs and similar venues (see below)
  • indoor premises where an event is being held with more than 500 people in attendance where not everyone is normally seated
  • any outdoor premises where an event is being held with over 4,000 people in attendance, where not everyone is normally seated
  • any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance
  • theatres
  • cinemas
  • concert halls

The certificate has to show either:

  • proof of full vaccination status,
  • a negative Lateral Flow Test in the previous 48 hours,
  • a positive PCT test within the last 180 days but not within the previous 10 days

This may affect some members. Where a Covid certification it is required, you can reasonably expect venues to be taking care of it – but do check with them to understand what they are doing if you need to assist. And of course, communicate with audiences.  

With the increasing prevalence of the Omicron variant guidance has been updated. However, these changes do not mean all performances have to be cancelled. For main impact on leisure-time music groups putting on performances will be:

  • Indoor standing events cannot go ahead
  • A new emphasis on individuals using lateral flow tests before they attend events
  • Restrictions on how individuals travel to events

Groups should re-visit their risk assessments in light of the Omicron variant and increased risk level and decide if their activities are viable and/or if new measures are needed to stay safe. Making Music’s guidance and risk assessment template for performances can help with this.


 

What can groups do? 

This guidance is based on the NI Executive general guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations and guidance: what they mean for you

Indoor standing events:  these events cannot take place

All outdoor and indoor seated events

These events can take place, with some restrictions and measures in place.

There are three sections of the guidance that are relevant:

We have pulled out some of the key messages mentioned in the guidance below and members can refer to our guidance and risk assessment template for further help.

Size of event:  there is no formal limit on the number of people allowed. The Indoor and outdoor gatherings and events section of the guidacne says for outdoor and indoor seated events, the number of people permitted to attend “...is determined by a risk assessment, carried out by the organiser or operator.”

The guidance also state: 

“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
  • an account of the reasonable measures taken”

Face coverings: The Entertainment, leisure activities and cultural attractions section says: “You must wear a face covering when you go to any indoor public space, unless exempt”.

Face coverings are not required outdoors.

Social distancing: The legal requirement for social distancing has been removed.  But the Social distancing section of the guidance states: :

“Social distancing is one of a number of measures that can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Other mitigations include good ventilation, the use of protective screens and face coverings, as well as increased cleaning and handwashing.

The closer you are to others, the higher the risk. The risk of transmission is therefore higher at one metre compared to two metres. The level of risk also increases if there are no mitigations in place.

Other factors that affect risk include location (indoors or outdoors), direction (whether you are face-to-face or back-to-back) and time (duration).

The highest risk is in an indoor, crowded, poorly-ventilated space for a long period of time.”

So, whilst it is not a legal requirement the guidance does suggest it can be a useful measure to reduce risk alongside others, and we recommend groups consider it for indoor events. There is more information in our Risk Assessment guidance

Travel:  The Indoor and outdoor gatherings and events section says “Those travelling to a sporting or cultural event should not share transport with anyone outside of their own household and should where possible travel in their own car, walk or cycle.”

Other; The Indoor and outdoor gatherings and events section also lists: 

"Other mitigations should be considered to reduce the risk of transmission including one way systems throughout venues, sufficient queuing arrangements to avoid congestion and track and trace arrangements.

Ticket purchase should be advance, use of cards and scanners are preferred and handling of cash or paper tickets should where possible be removed.

Good hygiene including hand sanitising is strongly recommended and venue operators should ensure sanitisation stations are widely available and regularly filled."

Covid Certificates: 

“It is now a legal requirement to provide proof of your COVID-19 status before entering a number of premises including licensed hospitality premises, cinemas and theatres.”

There is separate Coronavirus (COVID-19): information on the COVID Certification Scheme guidance:

“Since 29 November, you have to prove your COVID status for access to:

  • nightclubs
  • licensed hospitality premises, including 'bring your own' alcohol venues
  • cinemas, theatres, conferences and exhibition halls
  • indoor events with 500 or more attendees with some or all of the audience not normally seated
  • outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees with some or all of the audience not normally seated
  • events where more than 10,000 people will be present regardless of whether they are seated"

The certificate has to show either:

  • proof of full vaccination status,
  • a negative Lateral Flow Test in the previous 48 hours,
  • proof of recovery from a positive PCR test in the previous 30 – 180 days

This may affect some members. Where a Covid certification it is required, you can reasonably expect venues to be taking care of it – but do check with them to understand what they are doing if you need to assist. And of course, communicate with audiences.  

 


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' has not been updated to reflect the latest changes, and it seems the arts sector should be following general guidance (as detailed above). But the arts council document is still available to view.

 

With the increasing prevalence of the Omicron variant guidance has been updated. However, these changes do not mean that music group activities have to be cancelled. For rehearsal the main impact is a new emphasis on encouraging individuals to use lateral flow tests before attending a gathering and for individuals to consider how they travel top gatherings to minimise risks.

However, Groups should re-visit their risk assessments in light of the Omicron variant and increased risk level and decide if their activities are viable and/or if new measures are needed to stay safe. Making Music’s Risk assessment for rehearsals guidance and template can help with this.


This guidance is based on the NI Executive general guidance; Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations and guidance: what they mean for you. 

What does the guidance say?

For both in indoor and outdoor gatherings

“You are strongly recommended to take a Rapid Lateral Flow test before attending an indoor or outdoor event or gathering. Lateral flow tests are free and provide a result within 30 minutes at home.”

Outdoor gatherings

The Outdoor gatherings section says: 

"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"

Social distancing: the legal requirement for social distancing has been removed but isstill encouraged.

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

Later the guidance does still reference it: “Social distancing is one of a number of measures that can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19”

And later says: “The highest risk is in an indoor, crowded, poorly-ventilated space for a long period of time.”

As such social distancing is not required outdoors and we think groups can meet outdoors without social distancing measures.

Travel: “When travelling to large events you should walk, cycle or use private transport, shared only with members of your household where possible.”

Face coverings: there is no specific mention of face coverings and outdoors. The Outdoor gatherings section does refer to 'respiratory hygiene practices', but we don’t think face coverings are required outdoors.

Indoor gatherings

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 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."

Social distancing: the legal requirement for social distancing has been removed. But the guidance does still reference it:

“Social distancing is one of a number of measures that can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Other mitigations include good ventilation, the use of protective screens and face coverings, as well as increased cleaning and handwashing.

The closer you are to others, the higher the risk. The risk of transmission is therefore higher at one metre compared to two metres. The level of risk also increases if there are no mitigations in place.

Other factors that affect risk include location (indoors or outdoors), direction (whether you are face-to-face or back-to-back) and time (duration).

The highest risk is in an indoor, crowded, poorly-ventilated space for a long period of time.”

So, whilst it is not a legal requirement the guidance does suggest it can be a useful measure to reduce risk alongside others, and we recommend groups consider it for indoor events. There is more information in our Risk Assessment guidance

Face coverings: the Entertainment, leisure activities and cultural attractions section says:

"You must wear a face covering when you go to any indoor public space, unless exempt"

We think this would apply to rehearsals so face coverings should be worn when rehearsing indoors.

Face coverings whilst singing: there is no definitive statement in the guidance about wearing face coverings whilst singing.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): face coverings guidance does say exemptions apply “If you have a reasonable excuse not to” and lists what reasonable excuses can include:

  • "if you need to seek medical assistance or to provide care to someone who needs assistance, such as a vulnerable person or in an emergency
  • if you have a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause you severe distress
  • if you are travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • if you need to remove it to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
  • if you need to eat, drink, or take medication
  • if you are asked to remove your face covering by a police officer or someone who may need to check your identity, for example, when buying alcohol, when you are at the bank, or in an airport or when boarding an aircraft”

This is not a definitive list, but the emphasis is on a reasonable excuse being when wearing a face covering would cause harm or stop you taking part in an activity. 

Whilst singing in a face covering is not ideal, it is possible – and based on the above it is hard to argue that singing in a face covering is a reasonable excuse, unless there is a medical condition which means someone is exempt (a risk to health).

As such based on all the guidance our view is that face coverings should be worn at rehearsals, including whilst singing. There are masks designed for singing available. 

Face coverings for wind and brass: there is more room for reasonable excuse to apply to wind and brass playing as a face covering would stop your from doing the activity outright. Our view is that face coverings don't have to be worn when actually playing but should be at all other times. You might consider bell covers for the instruments.

Covid Certificates: the guidance encourages hospitality/entertainment venues to ask customers for proof of double vaccination, a negative lateral flow test or natural immunity. This is advice and not a legal requirement – so some venues may ask for some proof – some may not.

As such groups will not be required to ask members for proof – but venues may ask for it.

What can groups do? 

Outdoors 

  • 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. 
  • Encourage members to use Later flow tests before attending
  • Encourage members to, where possible, walk, cycle or use private transport limited to members of one household.
  • Aim for at least 1m social distancing if possible (advice not requirement)
  • No need for face coverings

Indoors

  • 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.
  • Maintain 1m social distancing if possible (advice not requirement)
  • Wear face coverings
  • Encourage members to use Later flow tests before attending
  • Encourage members to, where possible, walk, cycle or use private transport limited to members of one household.

 


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' has not been updated to reflect the latest changes, and it seems the arts sector should be following general guidance (as detailed above). But the arts council document is still available to view.