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 10 June, performances 10 June 
  • Northern Ireland: rehearsals 21 May, and performances 21 May
  • Scotland: rehearsals 18 May, and performances 20 May    
  • Wales: rehearsals 8 June and performances 8 June

What country is your group based in?

Do you want:  

In person non-professional activity can return at step 3 of the road map – so as of 17 May.

DCMS updated their guidance (18 May) to detail how this can happen.

The guidance states (section 2.4):

  • “non-professional activities are permitted indoors and outdoors, within the legal gathering limits.
  • Outdoors, people can take part in non-professional performing arts activities in a group of up to 30 people. Activities can take place with multiple permitted groups, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity, and the event is organised in line with the organised events guidance for local authorities.
  • Indoors, people can take part in non-professional performing arts activities in a group of up to 6 people, or as a group of 2 households/bubbles. Activities can take place with multiple permitted groups, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity, and the event is organised in line with the organised events guidance for local authorities.
  • However, non-professional singing indoors should only take place in a single group of up to 6 people.
  • Activities should be organised to allow for social distancing to be maintained.”

This means guidance is different for non-singing and singing groups, with greater restrictions on what singing groups can do.

This separation of singing is new and unexpected. We are campaigning with others in the industry to change this – check our campaign page for latest updates and what you can do to help.

Also see 'What can my group do? - Singing inside' below for more information.  

What can my group do?

    Non-singing

    • Inside and outside: no fixed maximum as long as conditions are met - so maximum numbers are dictated by safety.

     

      Singing – outside only

      You can meet to rehearse with no fixed limit on the numbers, but with some conditions as set out in Coronavirus (COVID-19): Organised events guidance for local authorities:

      1. “Event organisers follow all relevant COVID-secure guidance depending on the type of event, and complete a related risk assessment” (this is DCMS guidance for music groups – see COVID secure rehearsals below
      2. “All reasonable action has been taken by the event organiser to mitigate risk to public health.” (this is DCMS guidance for music groups – see COVID secure rehearsals below)
      3. “Organisers and attendees adhere to all legal requirements, including maintaining group sizes permitted by social contact restrictions… and preventing mixing between groups, enforcing social distancing guidelines and mandating face coverings in indoor areas where required.”

      It is important to understand what is meant in the last point by “…maintaining group sizes permitted by social contact restrictions… and preventing mixing between groups social contact limits”:

      • This means that the total number of people attending a rehearsal can be more than the social contact limit – but that they must always remain in sub-groups within social contact limits.
      • So, indoors the social contact is 6. If your venue could safely (i.e. with social distancing) allow for 42 people (as an example) to attend, all 42 could attend but they would have to stay in a maximum of 7 sub-groups of 6 people. With no mixing / switching between the sub-groups.
      • Likewise, outside the social contact limit is 30. If you can safely (i.e. with social distancing) allow for 60 people (as an example) to attend, all 60 could attend but they would have to stay in a maximum of 2 sub-groups of 30 people. With no mixing / switching between the sub-groups.
      • Making Music advise that you go further than this both indoors and outdoors and treat everyone as a sub-group of 1 – and don’t allow for any mixing. This will mean your rules can be very simple and clear and make the rehearsal much easier to manage.

      The last point also mentions “face coverings in indoor areas where required” see our separate guidance on face coverings and singing for more information

       

      Singing - inside

      The DCMS guidance says: “non-professional singing indoors should only take place in a single group of up to 6 people.”

      This means groups can meet to rehearse in groups of 6 people maximum, plus conductor and accompanist (as they are working, they don't count in the numbers).

      What else have DCMS said?

      We, along with other sector organisations, have been campaigning to get this guidance changed. So far no change to the guidance has happened, but the DCMS response to the first industry joint letter to Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, states:

      "Whilst it is for organisers and venues to determine how to operate in accordance with the relevant guidance and regulations, we would remind you that the limits do not apply to activity taking place for work or commercial activity."

      It is not clear (perhaps deliberately so) what is meant by ‘work’ and ‘commercial’ and we have been told that no further clarification will be provided. 'Work' could mean anyone being there in a professional capacity. 'Commercial' does not have to be about profit – it could be about the commercial sale of products and services such as tickets for concerts or being paid a fee to perform at an event. So a rehearsal working towards a concert or performance could be commercial.

      The Association of British Orchestras also received the following notification from DCMS:

      The Performing Arts guidance states that non-professionals are those participating in the Performing Arts other than for work purposes. 

      Event organisers will need to consider the specifics of each case, with regards to whether activity is being undertaken for work purposes or not.

      ABO interpreted this as meaning that non-professional singers taking part in a concert put on by a professional orchestra would count as participating for "work purposes", and would therefore be exempt from the limit of 6. Under this interpretation, amateur choruses of professional orchestras are now rehearsing and performing in numbers greater than 6.

      Guidance v law

      We have had some queries from members asking if the DCMS guidance is law. The answer is no. It is guidance – not law. The law is set down in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021. The law does allow for groups to rehearse indoors in numbers greater than 6. Risk assessments and measures would have to be in place to ensure the total number was a safe number and the event was covid secure.

      It is the DCMS guidance for the sector that sets the limit on numbers at 6.

      Does this mean we can meet?

      DCMS guidance sets the limit at 6, but those limits do not apply to activity for work or commercial activity.

      You would not be breaking the law if you met in greater numbers than 6.

      If you are considering meeting in numbers greater than 6, you may wish to consider the following two risks to your choir:

      • Insurance: see below.
      • Reputation: consider the impact on the reputation of your group with reference to your participants, your audiences, your local community and the wider sector.

      Insurance

      There is no exclusion on the Making Music policies under the liability cover for COVID (or indeed any communicable diseases), i.e. you are covered, if your activity is permitted. 

      However, RSA, who is the underwriter for Making Music Insurance policies, have said that if a group ignores relevant DCMS guidance and then makes a claim under the liability section of the policy, that claim would be declined. So ignoring relevant government guidance means your activities would not be insured.

      BUT after sharing the minister’s letter and statement that "Whilst it is for organisers and venues to determine how to operate in accordance with the relevant guidance and regulations, we would remind you that the limits do not apply to activity taking place for work or commercial activity." , RSA have now confirmed (10 June) that in their opinion a commercial activity would include ventures that involve ticket sales and where it is customary for fees to be charged for attending events and include rehearsals before said event(s). 

      This means that if you are meeting to rehearse towards a concert which is or will be selling tickets, or if you are meeting to rehearse towards a performance for which your group will be paid, then this commercial activity allows you to meet indoors in numbers greater than 6 and it will therefore be covered by your MMIS insurance policy.


      Online

      If singing outside is no possible for you group can  of course still rehearse online:

      Youth groups

      There is separate guidance and restrictions for youth groups (where all members were under 18 as of 31 August 2020) – see Youth Groups below for more details. 

      Music in churches

      There are some different rules for music in churches. These relate to music as part of worship. Where a group is hiring a church for a rehearsal the above limits as set out by DCMs apply. 


      Youth groups

      There is separate Government guidance for youth groups called Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

      It applies to formal education settings, extra-curricular activities in schools and government defined out-of-school setting providers (e.g. Ofsted registered). But it also references ‘community activities’ and ‘providers of youth services and activities’. As such youth groups that are not affiliated to a school or Ofsted registered are covered by this guidance.

      It is important to note that the guidance is for groups providing services for children who were under the age of 18 on 31 August 2020. So, all your members must meet this criteria.

      What can youth groups do? 

      From 12 April 

      Outdoor: the guidance states:

      “Outdoor provision to all children, without restrictions on the purpose for which they may attend.”

      And later

      “Additionally, if the activity is taking place outdoors, groups can be of any number. This is because the transmission risk is lower outside.”

      So outdoor rehearsals are possible with no formal limit on numbers. However, you should still think about total numbers and what is a safe number (see Risk assessments and mitigations below).

      Indoor: the guidance states:

       “out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare providers can offer provision to all children, without restriction on the reasons for which they may attend”.

      So indoor rehearsals are possible with no formal limit on numbers. However, you should still think about total numbers and what is a safe number (see below).

      Risk Assessment and mitigations 

      It is essential you do a risk assessment and have measures in place to mitigate risk.

      Whilst there is no limit on numbers, you should think about what is a safe number and as well as limiting mixing between children (such as using sub-groups or ‘bubbles’).

      The COVID secure rehearsals section below which references DCMS guidance and our risk assessment guidance and template will help with this. But you should also refer to:

       


      COVID secure rehearsals

      All groups should undertake a comprehensive risk assessment and put in place strong risk mitigation measures.

      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. DCMS have highlighted 11 Priority actions to take. Some relate more to performance rather than rehearsal and /or professionals.  We have pulled out the 7 priority actions relevant for non-professional rehearsal that you must take as an organisation below, along with the specific guidance for non-professionals.

      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.

      Specific guidance for non-professionals

      DCMS have also set out some measures for non-professionals to consider (some are specific to singing). They overlap with the 7 priority actions above, so we are just listing additional measures below. You should take the 7 above and the additional measures below as a whole.

      • Ensure that your activity is permitted. You must adhere to the legal gathering limits and any other restrictions, such as venue closures.
      • Limit the number of people involved. The cumulative effect of aerosol transmission means that the more people who are involved, the higher the risk of transmission (to each other or an audience). It is therefore important to limit the total number of individuals involved in singing or other performing arts activity as much as possible. If a larger number of people need to be involved in an activity, this should only take place in a well-ventilated COVID-secure venue or outdoor public space, and in line with regulations (such as the legal gathering limits) and the guidance set out on this page.
      • Limit the duration of activity as far as possible, and include breaks/intervals where people can go outside and/or the area can be aired.
      • Where possible, avoid raised voices. Consider reducing the volume of speaking and singing during rehearsals, and use microphones (if available) rather than breath for amplification.
      • 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.

       

      Step three of the road map started on 17 May and DCMS have updated their guidance to reflect this (18 May).

      Under step three indoor and outdoor performance can take place as long as conditions are meet, including capacity limits.

      What can my group do?

      The DCMS guidance sates

      “Indoor and outdoor events organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can take place.“

      The capacity limits are:

      • Indoor events: maximum of 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower,
      • Outdoor performances: maximum of 4,000 people or 50% of total capacity, whichever is lower.

      Outdoor events that do not have a fixed capacity or have a transient audience: DCMS do not address this directly in their guidance but have told us outdoor limits (above) do not apply – but that groups are expected to manage audiences in-line with DCMS performing arts guidance, and local authority advice. You can read our resource ‘Managing a moving audience outdoors in Covid times’ for more information.

      Limits are for audience and do not include staff, volunteers, and performers.

      But it should be noted that non-professional singing can only take place indoors with a maximum of 6 people singing. So, non-professional choirs that want to put on indoor performances would be limited to 6 performers at any one time.

      This limit only applies to non-professionals singing performing indoors. There is no formal limit on performer numbers for all other types of groups and performance settings (e.g. non-professional singing groups outside, professional groups and non-professional non-signing groups, indoors or out). In these cases the number of performers should be dictated by what is safe.

      It should also be that whilst audience capacity limits exceed the social contact limits event organisers are expected to ensure audiences are managed so that they do not mix beyond social contact limits.

      “Audiences should be arranged so that they can adhere to legal gathering limits (groups of up to 30 people outdoors, and up to 6 people or 2 households/bubbles indoors), and that relevant groups do not mix. Where possible, seating should allow people in the same group who do not live together to maintain social distancing.”

      So, if you have an indoors audience of 180 – they should be arranged in a maximum of 30 groups of 6 people.

      You should also:

      • Complete a thorough risk assessment
      • Follow COVID-secure guidance.
      • have measures in place to mitigate risks.

      See COVID secure events below. 


      COVID secure events and risk assessments

      All groups should undertake a comprehensive risk assessment and put in place strong risk mitigation measures.

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

      You should also read the DCMS guidance in full.

      We have pulled out the priority actions you must take as an organisation below, along with the specific guidance for non-professionals.

      DCMS 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.
      8. Take proactive steps to encourage audiences to support the safety of the event. Discourage activities which could increase aerosol transmission (such as shouting, chanting and singing along), clearly communicate that individuals who should be isolating should not attend, and provide information on how the event will run.

      9. Limit audience numbers and manage capacity to allow for social distancing. Limit the number of guests in line with your capacity limit, and further where needed to allow for social distancing. Ensure customers are aware of the legal limits on group sizes. Seat individuals rather than allowing them to stand, and arrange seating in line with social distancing guidance. You can find more information in the section on queuing, capacity and avoiding crowds


      Specific guidance for non-professionals

      DCMS have also set out some measures for non-professionals to consider (some are specific to singing). They overlap with the 7 priority actions above, so we are just listing additional measures below. You should take the 7 above and the additional measures below as a whole.

      • Ensure that your activity is permitted. You must adhere to the legal gathering limits and any other restrictions, such as venue closures.
      • Limit the number of people involved. The cumulative effect of aerosol transmission means that the more people who are involved, the higher the risk of transmission (to each other or an audience). It is therefore important to limit the total number of individuals involved in singing or other performing arts activity as much as possible. If a larger number of people need to be involved in an activity, this should only take place in a well-ventilated COVID-secure venue or outdoor public space, and in line with regulations (such as the legal gathering limits) and the guidance set out on this page.
      • Limit the duration of activity as far as possible, and include breaks/intervals where people can go outside and/or the area can be aired.
      • Where possible, avoid raised voices. Consider reducing the volume of speaking and singing during performances, and use microphones (if available) rather than breath for amplification.

       

      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.

      Singing inside

      The DCMS guidance says: “non-professional singing indoors should only take place in a single group of up to 6 people.”

      This means groups can meet to rehearse in groups of 6 people maximum, plus conductor and accompanist (as they are working, they don't count in the numbers).

      What else have DCMS said?

      We, along with other sector organisations, have been campaigning to get this guidance changed. So far no change to the guidance has happened, but the DCMS response to the first industry joint letter to Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, states:

      "Whilst it is for organisers and venues to determine how to operate in accordance with the relevant guidance and regulations, we would remind you that the limits do not apply to activity taking place for work or commercial activity."

      It is not clear (perhaps deliberately so) what is meant by ‘work’ and ‘commercial’ and we have been told that no further clarification will be provided. 'Work' could mean anyone being there in a professional capacity. 'Commercial' does not have to be about profit – it could be about the commercial sale of products and services such as tickets for concerts or being paid a fee to perform at an event. So a rehearsal working towards a concert or performance could be commercial.

      The Association of British Orchestras also received the following notification from DCMS:

      The Performing Arts guidance states that non-professionals are those participating in the Performing Arts other than for work purposes. 

      Event organisers will need to consider the specifics of each case, with regards to whether activity is being undertaken for work purposes or not.

      ABO interpreted this as meaning that non-professional singers taking part in a concert put on by a professional orchestra would count as participating for "work purposes", and would therefore be exempt from the limit of 6. Under this interpretation, amateur choruses of professional orchestras are now rehearsing and performing in numbers greater than 6.

      Guidance v law

      We have had some queries from members asking if the DCMS guidance is law. The answer is no. It is guidance – not law. The law is set down in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021. The law does allow for groups to rehearse indoors in numbers greater than 6. Risk assessments and measures would have to be in place to ensure the total number was a safe number and the event was covid secure.

      It is the DCMS guidance for the sector that sets the limit on numbers at 6.

      Does this mean we can meet?

      DCMS guidance sets the limit at 6, but those limits do not apply to activity for work or commercial activity.

      You would not be breaking the law if you met in greater numbers than 6.

      If you are considering meeting in numbers greater than 6, you may wish to consider the following two risks to your choir:

      • Insurance: see below.
      • Reputation: consider the impact on the reputation of your group with reference to your participants, your audiences, your local community and the wider sector.

      Insurance

      There is no exclusion on the Making Music policies under the liability cover for COVID (or indeed any communicable diseases), i.e. you are covered, if your activity is permitted. 

      However, RSA, who is the underwriter for Making Music Insurance policies, have said that if a group ignores relevant DCMS guidance and then makes a claim under the liability section of the policy, that claim would be declined. So ignoring relevant government guidance means your activities would not be insured.

      BUT after sharing the minister’s letter and statement that "Whilst it is for organisers and venues to determine how to operate in accordance with the relevant guidance and regulations, we would remind you that the limits do not apply to activity taking place for work or commercial activity." , RSA have now confirmed (10 June) that in their opinion a commercial activity would include ventures that involve ticket sales and where it is customary for fees to be charged for attending events and include rehearsals before said event(s). 

      This means that if you are meeting to rehearse towards a concert which is or will be selling tickets, or if you are meeting to rehearse towards a performance for which your group will be paid, then this commercial activity allows you to meet indoors in numbers greater than 6 and it will therefore be covered by your MMIS insurance policy.

       

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

      Strategic Framework and Protection Levels

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

      The summary information on what you can do at each level has been published and can be downloaded here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

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

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

      What can groups do?

      • From 17 May (confirmed) – outdoors organised activity permitted in mainland Scotland areas in Level 2. For islands in Level 1, indoor group activity permitted. With reference to performing arts guidance (see below). Check your protection level using the Postcode checker for COVID restrictions by protection level in areas of Scotland

      • From 7 June (indicative) – outdoors and indoors group activity permitted in areas that move to Level 1. With reference to performing arts guidance (see below)

      Online rehearsals are of course possible. See our resources to find our more:

       

      There are some different rules for youth groups (see below).

       


       

      Guidance for performing arts (adults)

      Scottish Government guidance revisions were published on 17 May and there is a section with an Operational guide for non-professionals gathering for performing arts activities. It permits organised groups to undertake their activities “currently permitted in their local authority area, according to its protection level on the strategic framework”.

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

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

      Capacity: Guidance states: “Capacity should be calculated based on ensuring 2 metre physical distancing between participants/households and between organisers/leaders and support staff/ volunteers and participants/households, and in accordance with the guidance and maximum numbers for events”

      The maximum numbers at events are here

      • At Level 2, numbers are capped at 250 standing outdoors 
      • Level 1, numbers are capped indoors at 100 standing/200 seated

      Organisers must ensure 2 metre physical distancing at all times and should refer to the guidance for calculating physical distancing capacity in public settings to establish maximum capacity possible in the premises or setting used. The number of music makers that can safely be accommodated in a venue is likely to be significantly smaller than the maximum stated in events guidance.

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

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

      • Keep a record of attenders for 21 days to support Test and Protect.
      • Make sure that participants do not attend if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or when advised to self-isolate.
      • Observe 2 metre physical distancing between each participant/household and any others attending, such as conductors, accompanists or audiences (where permitted). (measured from the edge of a performer’s chair)
      • Use back-to-back or side-to-side positioning of performers (rather than face-to-face)
      • Limit the duration of rehearsals and performances
      • Avoid exposure of attenders through using alternative programmes, technology or adapting, re-arranging or re-orchestrating for fewer participants.
      • Consider using screens or barriers in addition to physical distancing.
      • Determine what level of monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms or for COVID-19 is required to achieve as reasonable a level of risk mitigation as possible.
      • Ensure there is a clear policy in place for managing a COVID-19 positive individual

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

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

      • On singing "...steps should be taken to reduce the risk of transmission, including limiting the number of people participating and increasing ventilation.”
      • On playing music  “Face coverings should be worn wherever possible unless exempt. Where wearing a face covering is not practical, for example, when playing some instruments, other mitigations such as screens, physical distancing, etc should be considered. Since face coverings have been shown to reduce the mass of aerosol expelled during singing, their use should be considered as additional precautionary mitigation.”
      • On handling musical instruments etc –  (extract):
        • using designated storage for large instrument cases; musicians with smaller instruments keep cases under their seat
        • avoiding sharing professional equipment wherever possible and place name labels on equipment, for example, percussionists maintaining their own sticks and mallets.
        • handling of music scores, parts and scripts to be limited to the individual using them
        • if equipment has to be shared, regularly disinfecting it (including any packing cases, handles, props, chairs and music stands) and always between users
        • consider quarantining hired objects for 72 hours before use
        • cleaning of musical instruments by musicians, where possible
        • creating picking-up and dropping-off collection points where possible, rather than passing equipment such as props, scripts, scores and mics hand-to-hand
        • not permitting audience onto the stage or to touch equipment, props, instruments, set or other objects used by performers

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

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

       


      Youth groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Capacity

      The guidance has a section called ‘Capacity and physical distancing’ that advises:

      “In assessing and managing risk, service providers should assess the number of individuals (staff, volunteers, children and young people, parents) that can safely be accommodated in a setting at any one time, using the guidance set out here. https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-calculating-physi...

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

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

      What can my Group do?

      As of 17 May:

      Level 2 – Permitted with relevant physical distancing requirements and maximum capacities

      • Indoors seated: 100
      • Indoors standing: 50
      • Outdoors seated: 500
      • Outdoors standing: 250

      Level 1 - Permitted with relevant physical distancing requirements and maximum capacities

      • Indoors seated: 200
      • Indoors standing:100
      • Outdoors seated: 1,000
      • Outdoors standing: 500

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


      Strategic Framework and Protection Levels

      Future indicative dates

      • 7 June: all of Scotland will move to Level 1 (capacity limits as above)
      • 28 June: all of Scotland will move to Level 0. Capacity limits: 
        • Indoors seated: 400
        • Indoors standing: 200
        • Outdoors seated: 2,000
        • Outdoors free-standing: 1,000

      View the summary information on what you can do at each level


      Guidance for performing arts (adults)

      Scottish Government guidance revisions were published on 17 May. Non-professional groups are permitted and guided to use same guidance as professionals:

      For any activity with an audience present, non-professionals must follow the same requirements in relation to a public performance as professional performing artists / organisations. There are three key bits of guidance to be aware of:

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

      Wales uses a four level alert system. Alert level one has the least restrictions and level four the most. 

      Wales is currently moving from alert level two to alert level one, which does allow groups to meet and rehearse outdoors and indoors, with varying limits to numbers.  

      So, what can my group do?

      As of 7 June

      Outdoors: you can organise a rehearsal (or performance of up to 4,000 of any age standing and 10,000 seated)

      • This cannot be in the grounds or gardens of private homes (where the limit on numbers is max. 6 people from 6 households).
      • Groups must carry out a risk assessment and have measures in place to mitigate risk (see COVID secure rehearsals below).
      • Groups rehearsing in public need to think about how to manage members of the public / passers-by. If people stop and watch, a rehearsal can quickly become a performance – which requires additional/different risk assessment
      • Alcohol cannot be consumed as part of the activities
      • There are no limits to the number of children aged under 11 that can take part

      Indoors: you can organise an indoor rehearsal with up to 30 adults

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

      Regulated gatherings

      Regulated gatherings encompass a broad range of activities that can be attended by people of any age. These include activities that were previously referred to as 'organised activities' and allow for larger scale events, which includes but is not limited to:

      • Team sports
      • Exercise classes
      • Meetings of religious groups and support groups
      • Guided tours
      • Parkrun
      • Car boot sales
      • Fetes
      • Live music concerts
      • Food festivals

      Regulated gatherings will vary in size and the capacity for different regulated gatherings will be determined by a risk assessment which includes taking all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to and spread of coronavirus. Reasonable measures includes ensuring social distancing can be maintained.

      Maximum numbers who may attend regulated gatherings outdoors is up to 4,000 people of any age (standing) and 10000 people of any age seated.

      If the organised activity is taking place indoors, the maximum number of people aged 11 and over that can take part is 30.

      Regulated gatherings can include activities such as celebrations, however these must be organised by a business, public body or a charitable, benevolent, educational or philanthropic institution, a club or political organisation, or the national governing body of a sport or other activity. The organiser of the activity must meet requirements in the regulations to undertake a risk assessment and take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

      Read more on the Welsh Government website

      Can choirs and brass bands resume practicing indoors or outdoors?

      Choirs and brass bands are permitted to rehearse indoors with up to 30 members under the indoor regulated gathering rules.

      Capacity for outdoors regulated gatherings, including practice and rehearsal, would need to be determined by a risk assessment which includes taking all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to and spread of coronavirus.

      Read more on the Welsh government website
      Find out more about reasonable measures

      Road out of lockdown

      The Welsh government has released a detailed document outlining the strategic plan and what is and isn’t possible at each alert level. 

      COVID secure rehearsals

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

      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 it does apply to non-professionals.
      • It gives specific information for singing, wind, brass (part 3.19)
      • It gives specific information for other (non-singing, wind and brass) musical activity (part 13.20)
      • There have been some updates to the guidance – so if you read it a while ago it is worth another read. 

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

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

      Wales uses a four level alert system. Level one has the least restrictions and level four the most.

      Wales is currently moving from alert level two to alert level one, which allows groups to hold performances outdoors and indoors, with varying limits on numbers.  

      What can groups do? 

      Outdoors: you can organise a performance with up to 4,000 people of any age (standing) and 10,000 people of any age (seated). 

      • This cannot be in the grounds or gardens of private homes (where the limit on number is max. 6 people from 6 households).
      • Groups must carry out a risk assessment and have measures in place to mitigate risk.
      • Alcohol cannot be consumed as part of the activities.
      • There are no limits to the number of children aged under 11 that can take part.
         

      Indoors: you can organise a performance with up to 30 adults.

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

      Groups will need to complete a risk assessment and have measures in place to reduce risk in line with the Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts. This includes:

      • social distancing
      • one-way systems
      • ventilation guidelines.

      Groups can use the Making Music risk assessment guidance and templates to help with this.

      As of 24 May, lockdown restrictions are being eased and in person music performances are allowed outdoors with measures in place, depending on the number of people gathering.

      Indoor performances are still not permitted. The Northern Ireland Executive have released a document detailing the pathway out of lockdown and restrictions and have released some indicative dates for next steps.

      The guidance states: “An indicative date of 21 June has been set for the return of audiences in theatres, concert halls and other venues…”


      What can groups do? 

      Outdoor performances

      From 24 May: Outdoor performances can take place. A risk assessment is needed for gatherings of more than 30 people, and there can be up to 500 in the audience (not including participants) as stated in the guidance: 

      Indoor performances

      Indoor performances are not currently allowed. The guidance says, 'Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience'.

      So promoting groups could potentially livestream/record a concert. Read the Making Music guidance on livestreaming, including our live streaming subsidy.

      Plan how to return in person when it is possible - Covid Secure events 

      When groups can return to in person performances doing so safely will be vital. Making Music’s guidance and risk assessment for performances can help with this. 

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

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

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

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

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

       

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

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

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

      What can groups do? 

      National lockdown update 

      Following the latest review (21 May), the performing arts guidance has been withdrawn and the NI Executive have updated their guidance.

      From 24 May activity can resume as follows:

      Outdoors: singing and playing can start again
      Indoors: singing and playing can start again (no restriction on numbers but limited by social distancing)

      What does the guidance say?

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

      Outdoor gatherings: 

      'From 24 May, no more than 500 people can attend outdoor gatherings. This limit applies to spectators at events (but does not include participants).

      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'

      Indoor gatherings: 

      'From the 24 May, the maximum number of people that can attend indoor gatherings is to be informed by a venue 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'

      The guidance also states that: 'Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience.'

      What can groups do? 

      From 24 May, groups can:

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

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

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

      Pathway out of restrictions

      The Northern Ireland Executive have released a document detailing the pathway out of lockdown and restrictions and have released some indicative dates for next steps. These are pending confirmation and we will update this page once we have that.

      Indicative date: 10 June

      The next date for a review of the guidance will be 10 June. We anticipate that restrictions on the numbers for gathering will be lifted but risk assessments will still be required. The date is indicative only, and has yet to be confirmed.
       


      Meeting to rehearse safely 

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

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

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

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

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

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