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

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

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

The tool below will help you identify which bit of guidance is relevant to you, and help you establish what your group can and cannot do.

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

First published 13 July 2020

Updated:

  • 31 July
    • England (rehearsals and performances)
    • Scotland (performances)
    • 3 August - Wales (rehearsals and performances)
  • 7 August (Northern Ireland – rehearsals and performances)
  • 14 August (England – rehearsals and performances)
  • 20 August (England – rehearsals)
  • 21 August (Scotland - performances and England –  rehearsals
  • 25 August (Scotland - rehearsals)
  • 24 August (Northern Ireland - rehearsals)
  • 10 September (Scotland - rehearsals, and England - rehearsals)
  • 16 September (England - rehearsals)
  • 17 September (Northern Ireland - rehearsals, Northern Ireland - performances, England - rehearsals)
  • 18 September (Scotland - rehearsals, England - rehearsals)
  • 21 September (England - rehearsals)
  • 22 September (England - rehearsals, Northern Ireland - rehearsals)
  • 23 September (England - rehearsals, Scotland - rehearsals, Northern Ireland rehearsals, Wales - rehearsals, Wales - performances)
  • 29 September (England - rehearsals, Wales - rehearsals)
  • 1 October (Wales - rehearsals)
  • 6 October (England - rehearsals)
  • 9 October (Scotland - rehearsals)
  • 15 October (England - rehearsals)
  • 21 October (England - rehearsals, Northern Ireland - rehearsals, Wales - rehearsals)
  • 2 November (Scotland - rehearsals, performances)
  • 3 November (England - rehearsals, performances)
  • 6 November (Scotland - rehearsals,  Wales - rehearsals)
  • 13 November (Wales - rehearsals)
  • 18 November (Scotland - rehearsals, Scotland, performances)
  • 27 November (England - rehearsals, Northern Ireland - rehearsals, Northern Ireland - performances)
  • 30 November (England - rehearsals, England - performances)
  • 1 Dec (England - rehearsals, England - performances)
  • 15 December (Northern Ireland - rehearsals, Northern Ireland - performances)
  • 21 December (Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland- rehearsals, Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland - performances)
  • 5 January (Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland- rehearsals, Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland - performances)

What country is your group based in?

Do you want:  

National lockdown update 

Under current national lockdown restrictions groups cannot meet to rehearse in person.

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

We hope that once the current national lockdown measures are eased, we will move back to the tier system. We are leaving the previous tier guidance below as a reference to help you plan how to return to in person rehearsals when it is possible.

We will update the guidance once more information is available on how we will move out of lockdown.


Tier Guidance (does not apply to current national lockdown - see above)

Tier four: Groups cannot meet to reherase in person

Tier one to three: Groups can meet to rehearse in person 

What does the guidance say? 

DCMS guidance

If your tier does allow you to meet in person you should be following DCMS guidanceIt says this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can my group do? (does not apply to current national lockdown - see above)

Tier four 

Groups cannot meet to rehearse. 

Tier one, two and three 

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

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

Travel between tiers: 

  • Individuals living in tier 2 can travel to tier 1 areas – but should still follow tier 2 rules. If you are using the ‘sub-groups of 1’ approach (above) this should not be a problem.
  • Individuals living in tier 1 can travel to tier 2 areas – but should still follow tier 2 rules. Again, as long as you are using the ‘sub-groups of 1’ approach (above) this should not be a problem. 
  • Individuals living in tier 3 or 4 should not travel to other areas unless necessary (so should not travel for rehearsal). 

Read the official guidance on the tier system

 

COVID secure rehearsals

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

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

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

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

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

Other key sections of the guidance include

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

The 7 priority actions you must take as an organisation

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

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

 

 

National lockdown update 

Under current national lockdown restrictions in person performances are not possible.

Live streamed and pre-recorded broadcast performances are possible. This could be a professional artists performing from their own home or a group putting on a virtual concert. We have resources and subsidies to help with this:

We hope that once the current national lockdown measures are eased, we will move back to the tier system. We are leaving the previous tier guidance below as a reference to help you plan in person performances when it is possible.

We will update the guidance once more information is available on how we will move out of lockdown.


 

Tier Guidance (does not apply to current national lockdown - see above)

Tier four: Groups cannot perform in person under any circumstances

Tiers one to three: In person performance is possible with different limits on numbers in ech tier (see below for more detail)

What does the guidance say? 

If your tier does allow you to meet in person you should be following DCMS guidance

The guidance allows for performances to take place in tiers one to three – but with some restrictions depending on what tier you are in.

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

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

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

See this quote:

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

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

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

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

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


What can my group do? 

Tier four

Groups cannot perform in person under any circumstances. 

Livestreamed virtual performances are still possible. These should not include people from different households gathering in the same place.

Tier one 

Indoor and outdoor performances

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

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

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

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

Indoor:

  • The maximum allowed capacity is 50% of the venue or 1,000 people, whichever is lower.
  • Audience cannot join in any singing.

Outdoor:

  • The maximum allowed capacity is 50% of the venue or 4,000 people, whichever is lower.
  • The audience can join in the singing but there should mitigating measures in place such as social distancing, face coverings and limiting the duration.

Travel between tiers

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

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

Read the official guidance on tier restrictions.  


Tier two 

Indoor performances

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

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

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

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

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

Audience participation: the audience cannot join in any singing.

Outdoor performances

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

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

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

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

Capacity: The maximum allowed capacity is 50% of the venue or 2,000 people, whichever is lower.

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

Travel between tiers

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

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

Read the official guidance on tier restrictions.  


Tier three

Indoor performances

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

Outdoor performances

Outdoor music venues will be closed to audiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel between tiers: 

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

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

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

Read the official guidance on tier restrictions.  


Online events

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


COVID secure events and Risk Assessments

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

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

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

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

You should also read the DCMS guidance in full.

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

Other key sections of the guidance include:  

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

DCMS 7 priority actions:

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

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

 

 

National Lockdown update

Under current national lockdown restrictions groups cannot meet to rehearse in person.

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

We hope that once the current national lockdown measures are eased, we will move back to the 5 levels of protection system. We are leaving the level guidance below as a reference to help you plan how to return to in person rehearsals when it is possible.

We will update the guidance once more information is available on how we will move out of lockdown.

 


Guidance for five levels system (does not apply to current national lockdown - see above)

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

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

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

What does the guidance say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can groups do?

Levels 2, 3 and 4

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

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

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

Level 1

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

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

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

Level 0

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

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

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

Groups making music with children / young people under 18

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

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

What does the guidance say?

This guidance specifically references music as follows:

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

It also specifically references singing as follows:

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

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

However, guidance advises at all Protection Levels:

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

National Lockdown update

Under current national lockdown restrictions in person performances are not possible.

Live streamed and pre-recorded broadcast performances are possible. This could be a professional artists performing from their own home or a group putting on a virtual concert. We have resources and subsidies to help with this:

We hope that once the current national lockdown measures are eased, we will move back to the levels system. We are leaving the previous level guidance below as a reference to help you plan in person performances when it is possible.

We will update the guidance once more information is available on how we will move out of lockdown.


 

Guidance for five levels system (does not apply to current national lockdown - see above)

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

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

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

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

What does the guidance say?

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

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

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

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

What can groups do?

Levels 2, 3 and 4

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

Level 1

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

Level 0

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

 

Wales is moving to a four-tier system. Tier one has the least restrictions and tier four the most. 

The Welsh government have released a detailed document outlining the strategic tier plan and what is and isn’t possible at each level. They have also released a useful shorter document explaining each tier.

All of Wales is in tier four. The guidance below covers tier four restrictions.

Tier four

Organised outdoor activity is not possible at all. 

Concert halls are closed.

Indoor organised activities are limited to 'public and voluntary services' and community centres can have limited opening for ‘essential public services’.

The Health Protection Regulations 2020 does not clearly define what is covered by 'voluntary' and 'essential public services', but given the overall tone of tier four restrictions we do not think it includes music group activity.

So, what can my group do?

Groups cannot meet to rehearse. 

You can plan for how to rehearse safely in person once the restrictions allow. 

Doing a risk assessment is essential to this and the Making Music resource and template can help.

The two keys bit of guidance to be aware of are: 

  1. The Organised Activity section of the leaving your home and seeing other people guidance, which has some general rules organisers should follow. 
  2. 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 is moving to a four-tier system. Tier one has the least restrictions and tier four the most.

The Welsh government have released a detailed document outlining the strategic tier plan and what is and isn’t possible at each level. They have also released a useful shorter document explaining each tier.

All of Wales is in tier. The guidance below covers tier four restrictions.

Tier four

Public performances, indoor or out, are not possible under tier four restrictions.

Concert halls are closed, and places of worship and community centres are open only for essential public services.

What can groups do? 

 

Measures from 26 December 

New lock down measures came into force in Northern Ireland from 12.01am on 26th Dec and will last for 6 weeks.

What does the guidance say 

Concert venues: “Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience.”

Hospitality and accommodation: “In venues where alcohol is consumed the restrictions currently do not permit dancing, music for dancing or live music. Certain exemptions apply.”

Indoor and outdoor gatherings: Up to 15 people can meet outdoors, or in non-domestic indoor settings, such as a community hall. You should maintain social distancing by being at least two metres apart, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

You may not organise, operate or participate in an indoor or outdoor gathering which consists of more than 15 people.

No exemptions apply for cultural / artistic activities 

What can groups do? 

Indoor and outdoor performances

It is pretty difficult to hold any indoor or outdoor performances. In theory you could, but the total number of people present (not just audience) is 15.

Online Performances

Groups can organise online livestream performances, with artists performing from concert venues without an audience or from their own homes (max. 15 artists/technicians in one indoor space). 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? 

Measures from 26 December 

New lock down measures came into force in Northern Ireland from 12.01am 26th Dec and will last for 6 weeks.

What Does the guidance say? 

Singing Wind and Brass, which previously had no activity allowed, are now in line with other instruments – and so can go ahead (with some extra considerations for singing). As such this guidance applies to rehearsals for all instruments and singing.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings (excluding private homes / dwellings)

Taken from Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance: what the restrictions mean for you

Indoor and outdoor gatherings: "Up to 15 people can meet outdoors, or in non-domestic indoor settings, such as a community hall. You should maintain social distancing by being at least two metres apart, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

You may not organise, operate or participate in an indoor or outdoor gathering which consists of more than 15 people."

No exemptions apply for cultural / artistic activities 

Concert venues: “Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals”

Places of worship: “Places of worship are permitted to open in line with relevant guidance. 

Numbers attending acts of worship will be determined by the risk assessment. A limit of 15 applies to other activities being held in a place of worship.”

What can groups do? 

  • Rehearse indoors and outdoors - not in a private home or garden - in groups of up to 15 (see Meeting to rehearse safely below for more information) 

Meeting to rehearse safely 

In all instances the organiser must have carried out a risk assessment which meets the requirement of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

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”