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 group you are and where you are in the UK.

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

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

First published 13 July 2020

Updated:

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

What country is your group based in?

What type of group are you? 

From 12 October the government introduced a COVID level alert system with three alert levels:

  • Medium
  • High
  • Very High

Medium and High alert level areas

Groups operating in Medium and High alert level areas can continue to meet and rehearse in COVID Secure venues.

The detailed guidance for both levels allows for activities of more than 6 people to take place and for COVID secure venues to host more than 6 people:

Medium alert level: “Other activities, such as organised indoor sport, indoor exercise classes and other activity groups can continue with more than 6 people present provided that groups of more than 6 do not mix. Where it is likely that groups will mix, these activities must not go ahead.”

And

“Venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors in groups larger than 6, unless you all live together, or are in the same support bubble.”

High alert level: “Other activities, such as indoor exercise classes and other activity groups can only continue provided that households or support bubbles do not mix. Where it is likely that groups will mix, these activities must not go ahead.”

And

 “Venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors with anyone who they do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) unless exemptions apply. Outdoors, you can meet in groups of up to 6 people.”

This means groups can meet to rehearse  – but that social interactions must be limited. See ‘Meeting to rehearse’ below for more information on what this means in practice.

Groups should also bear in mind that people living in a Very High alert level area will not be able to travel to a high or medium area to rehearse.

Very High alert level

The situation for groups in Very High alert level areas is less clear.

There are baseline national restrictions that will apply to all Very High alert level areas. This does contain a provision for venues to host more than 6 people (as the Medium and High alert levels guidance does).

“Venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors or in most public outdoor venues with anyone who they do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with)”

But it does not have a provision that allows for group activities of larger groups - unlike the Medium and High alert levels, which do specially allow this.

However, the DCMS guidance states (Section 1 'Thinking about risk'): 

“In a COVID-secure venue or public outdoor place, non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between separate and distinct groups of no more than 6 (In Medium areas and outdoors) or individual households (in High and Very High areas) at any time (depending on Local Covid Alert Level restrictions).”

So this suggests that groups in Very High alert level areas can meet to rehearse – but that social interactions must be limited. See ‘Meeting to rehearse’ below for more information on what this means in practice.

However, a Very High alert level area will most probably have extra local measures on top of the baseline national measures. One possibility here is closing venues such community centres – which may mean groups might not have a venue to meet in.

So it is possible for groups in Very High alert level to meet, but local restrictions might mean they can’t. Groups in these areas should refer to the local measures to get the full picture and make a decision - and can of course contact us for help.

Finally, groups should also be aware that people who live outside Very High alert level areas are advised not to travel into a Very High alert level area.

Find out more about the alert level system and what level applies in your area.

Meeting to rehearse

Music groups meeting to rehearse and perform should do so in line with the government’s existing Performing Arts – Working Safely During Coronavirus guidance, which was updated on 17 September and explicitly states:

“Confirmed that from 14 September non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than 6 at any time. If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than 6 (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.” (new section in Introduction)

On 15 October DCMS updated Section 1 ' Thinking about risk' to cover the new Tier system: 

"In a COVID-secure venue or public outdoor place, non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between separate and distinct groups of no more than 6 (In Medium areas and outdoors) or individual households (in High and Very High areas) at any time (depending on Local Covid Alert Level restrictions). If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups (depending on Local Covid Alert Level restrictions) -including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising- then such non-professional activity should not take place. See Local Covid Alert Level guidance (MediumHighVery High) for more details on group size."

The ’sub-groups of no more than 6’ are causing some confusion when related to rehearsals. It is clearer for performances – you should not take a group booking of more than 6, and that group then needs to be socially distanced from the next sub-group.

In rehearsals, however, you should think of your ‘sub-groups’ as sub-groups of 1 attending your rehearsal (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. See our guidance and risk assessment template for more detail.

The DCMS guidance says "both professionals and non-professionals (meaning those participating in performing arts other than for work purposes), or groups which include non-professionals, should refer to this guidance for their activities.’"

And: 

"Within this guidance there are no set limits on the numbers who can be involved in planned non-professional activity taking place outside and/or in a Covid-secure venue.”… “However, organisations must ensure an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment is carried out and that the numbers of individuals involved are able to be socially distanced at all times. Organisations and venues will want to minimise the risk as far as possible and this guidance sets out a number of mitigations that should be considered when doing so."   

Social distancing

“Non-professional activities should not take place that require social distancing to be compromised.” (Introduction section).
And:
“Non-professionals are restricted by rules on meeting with others safely. This means that non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than 6 at any time. If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than 6 (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.”

This wording is stronger than the previous version and emphasises what is referred to in the FAQ quoted above, namely that there is to be absolutely no mingling. If there is any mingling, activity cannot take place.

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.

Community facilities guidance 

There is other government guidance specific to community groups and community activity (that the DCMS guidance does not specifically refer to):

Section 2a (Covering core principles) states:

“Community facilities following COVID-19 Secure guidance can host more than 6 people in total, but no one should visit or socialise in a group of greater than 6.”

Later on section 3.c (specifically about recreation / leisure activities) repeats this point and refers back to the DCMS performing arts guidelines: 

“COVID-secure community facilities are permitted to hold social groups, clubs and activities in groups of no more than 6. Community facilities can host multiple groups of 6, subject to capacity, but groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.

“However, for activities and social groups where there is a significant likelihood of groups mixing and socialising (and where it will be difficult to prevent mingling and therefore breaking the law) should not take place in a community facility. These may include but are not limited to:

  • formal or informal clubs and hobby clubs (e.g. women’s institute, veteran’s associations, freemasons, sewing clubs, book clubs, crafts clubs, reading groups)
  • amateur choirs and orchestras
  • informally organised sport activities on facilities grounds (professionally organised sport activities are exempt)

It later says: 
“Community facilities are now permitted to host socially distanced indoor and outdoor performances in line with the performing arts guidance.” (which currently has professionals and non-professionals on an equal footing)
And
“Both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with the performing arts guidance.”

This guidance could be clearer, but it is consistent with DCMS guidance. The key take-aways are:

  • You can meet in community centres for music activities in groups larger than 6
  • You cannot socialise or mingle in groups larger than 6 (and as per our recommendation above it is simplest to think of sub-groups of 1, instead of groups of 6)
  • Whilst the guidance does specifically mention amateur choirs and orchestras in relation to a significant likelihood of socialising, that doesn’t mean you can’t meet. It means you have to have done a thorough risk assessment, have measures in place and be using a COVID secure venue, to reduce the likelihood of socialising and manage the risk.

ACRE (Action in Communities in Rural England) have issued guidance to the village halls in their membership that they can host community groups, including amateur music groups, provided there is strict social distancing.

What can music groups do?

It is possible for Groups in all three alert level areas to meet to rehearse. However, in Very High alert level areas there might be local restrictions that means groups can’t meet to rehearse. Groups in these areas should check local measures and can contact us for help

Groups that can meet, whether indoors or outdoors 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 for 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.

New is also the mandatory requirement from 24 September to display an NHS Test & Trace poster with a QR code relating to your event(s) (read: rehearsals). You can generate the code and poster online.

You still have an obligation to collect information offline for people without a smartphone or who do not wish to use the NHS app.

You should at the very least be implementing the 7 priority actions now listed at the beginning of the DCMS performing arts guidance.

Please refer to Making Music’s risk assessment and guidance for full details

 

The DCMS guidance allows for outdoor and indoor performances, this means promoting groups that arrange performance by professionals can start to put on events again. 

The guidance states: 

"As of 15 August we are now at Stage Four of the roadmap. This means that socially distanced indoor and outdoor performances can take place in line with this guidance, though we encourage organisations to continue to work outdoors wherever possible." (Introduction section).

Outdoors

The guidance states: 

“It is against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces).

Businesses and venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host larger groups. This is also the case for events in public outdoor spaces that are organised by businesses, charitable or political organisations, and public bodies, provided they take reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of transmission, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidance and including completion of a risk assessment. Any other gathering in an outdoor space must not be any larger than 30 people. More details on managing audiences can be found in Section 5 of this document” (Introduction section).

Indoors

As of 15th  August indoor performances are possible but with a limited socially-distanced audience.

What about the rule of six?

New government guidance on meeting socially states:

“From Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors”

However, the guidance also states “…venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines will be able to continue to host more people in total …but no one should mix in a group of greater than six”

This means you can have an audience of more than six people – but no group booking should exceed six (unless it’s a household / support bubble) and audience members should not mingle with each other, unless they have come as a group of six (or less).

COVID secure events and Risk Assessments 

Groups planning indoor or outdoor performances should follow DCMS guidance on managing performances

The 7 priority actions you must take as an organisation are:

  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.

Online events 

We know live performances (whether indoor or out) will not be possible for all groups. It is worth remembering that livestreaming  and recorded performances for online broadcast are till viable options. We have guidance on livestreaming and livestreaming subsidies to help with this. 
 

Read the official guidance. 

 

The Scottish Government updated the Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the performing arts and venues sector on 17 September. It provides guidance specifically for non-professional music groups. 

Measures introduced on 23 September impact on this guidance where reference is made to “social gathering guidance” and “Staying safe and protecting others guidance”. Performing arts guidance should be read with reference to the new measures to drive down infection rate (22 September).

Scottish Government announced temporary measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to be in place from Friday 9 October to Sunday 25 October. Restrictions in five health board areas (Ayrshire & Arran; Forth Valley; Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Lanarkshire; Lothian) include – no outdoor live events. As the current guidance for performing arts requires organisations organising outdoor activity for non-professionals to adhere to events guidance, we interpret this to mean that organisations should not organise outdoor activity in these central belt areas during this period.

What does the guidance say?

In the 'Playing Music' section of the guidance it states:

“Non-professional musicians (including singing and wind and brass instrumentalists) may sing or play in groups outdoors and indoors, but group size should be limited to that permitted by social gathering guidance (Staying safe and protecting others). This currently allows for meetings of no more than 6 people from a maximum of 2 households either indoors or outdoors. Any local restrictions on household gatherings will also apply. You should maintain 2 metre distancing and avoid playing or singing face to face.”

As of 23 September, meeting people from any other households in your home or another person’s home is not permitted. You can continue to meet a maximum of six people from two households in outdoor spaces. However, the guidance also states:

“Non-professionals who are participating in an organised outdoor activity managed by an organisation - including a business, charity or club - can, from 24 August, meet outdoors. Organisers have a duty to ensure compliance with 2 metre physical distancing, hygiene measures and this and other relevant guidance, including events guidance, and to undertake the same risk assessment processes as referenced in this guidance for professional organisations, including member/participant representatives in those processes.”

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 “for all musicians (professional and non-professional) working indoors or outdoors in accordance with the restrictions above”. They 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 now differentiate between singing/wind/brass and other instrumentation. 

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.

Between Friday 9 October to Sunday 25 October, additional restrictions apply in Ayrshire & Arran; Forth Valley; Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Lanarkshire; Lothian which include – No outdoor live events.

What can groups do?

Non-professional musicians can only sing or play in groups that do not exceed the numbers for meeting socially i.e. not with anyone from another household indoors and up to 6 people from 2 households outdoors. You must maintain a 2m distance and abide by any further local restrictions.

Groups who would be considered an organisation (i.e. business, place of worship, charity, club or governing body) – can organise outdoor activity for non-professionals to participate in. Organisers must comply with physical distancing, hygiene measures, risk assessment processes and other guidance provided in the Guidance for Performing Arts and Venues Sector and events guidance. The maximum group size as laid out in the events guidance is 200.

Even groups that would be considered organisations cannot organise indoor activity for non-professionals. 

Groups in these areas should not organise outdoor activity from Friday 9 October to Sunday 25 October: Ayrshire & Arran; Forth Valley; Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Lanarkshire; Lothian.

Live outdoor events are planned in phase 3 of Scotland’s plan. Although the plan is currently in phase 3, changes are being introduced in stages

The Scottish Government confirmed on 20th August that with effect from Monday 24th August the following could resume:

“Outdoor seated live events and outdoor open space live events – with physical distancing, enhanced hygiene, and restricted numbers – following guidance.”

The indicative of 14 September remains for the following:

“Certain indoor live events – with physical distancing, enhanced hygiene, and restricted numbers – following guidance.

Other indoor entertainment venues – following guidance with physical distancing requirements (e.g. theatres, live music venues).”

Read more about phase 3 key dates.  

What can groups do? 

We also have guidance on doing risk assessments, including a template. 

  • Organise online livestream performances, with artists performing from their own homes. Read the Making Music guidance on livestreaming, including our livestreaming subsidy.
  • Plan for how to return safely for indoor events are allowed. See our planning for the future resource for more information. We are also working on guidance to help groups do risk assessments. 

Read the official guidance.  

 

Wales is a national 2-week circuit break as of 6pm Friday 23 October.

During this time groups will not be able to meet and rehearse under any circumstances.

We are leaving the guidance below as we hope it will apply once the circuit break is over – but for now circuit break restrictions take precedence and groups cannot meet.


 

The Welsh government have not provided definitive advice about how music groups can meet to rehearse. However, they have asked that music groups consider three pieces of guidance in deciding how to meet.

  1. Statement on Coronavirus

This was published on 30 September. It focuses limits on social gatherings (see Making Music interpretation below) – the most relevant information is in regard to the importance of managing symptoms and the track and trace system.

It should also be noted that this will be updated - so should be referred back to regularly for new information.

  1. Coronavirus Regulations: Frequently Asked

These focus on how people can meet socially and exceptions to rules

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

This is specially about how music groups can meet – and the measures they should have in place to do so.

We also think the following bits of guidance are relevant in decision making:

Making Music’s interpretation

We think the key thing to understand is the distinction between the limit on social gatherings and planned community activities such as music group rehearsals.

Indoors

The limit on social gatherings is: people are not allowed to meet socially anywhere indoors with people they don’t live with (with extra provision for extended households). Taken from Coronavirus Regulations : Frequently Asked

As this is about social gatherings is does not apply to planned community activity such as a music rehearsal, and so you can meet greater numbers to rehearse indoors.

This is further backed up by the guidance on Businesses and premises that must remain closed which states an exception for Community centres

Business, premises or place

Exceptions

Community centres, youth centres and similar

These are allowed to open for activities allowable in the Regulations and to provide public services without having to seek approval from local authorities. 

The regulations referred to are The Health Protection Regulations 2020, Because the multiple updates they are not the clearest, but our view is that they:

  • Do allow for community centres to be open (Part 3, regulation 12(3) lists community centres as an open premises’
  • Do not allow for music venues with a live audience to be open – but do not prohibit rehearsals (schedule 2, 3 page 40 states venues cannot open for performances to live audiences but does not prohibit rehearsals)

Local restrictions

Local restrictions focus on social interactions so as per the above should not impact whether you can meeting for planned community activity.

However, it will mean that individuals must not attend rehearsals outside their locked down area.

It is important to note that local restrictions can change quickly so do keep referring to official guidance on local restrictions. 

So, what can we do indoors?

Our interpretation is:

  • You can meet to rehearse indoors, without any set limit on numbers.
  • Community centres and other venues can hold music rehearsals
  • If a local lockdown is on place individuals should only attend rehearsals within their locked down area.

But should only do so if it is safe to do so – which means social distancing measures in place and following Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts: Guidelines for phased return (see Meeting to rehearse safely below for more information). So whilst there is no set limit on number it is likely you will have to impose your own limit based on the venue and your risk assessment to ensure you are meeting in a safe and responsible way.

Outdoors

The limit on social gatherings is: People must not gather outdoors in groups of more than 30. Taken from Coronavirus Regulations : Frequently Asked

Whilst this about social gathering, we think a limit of 30 also applies to outdoor music events.

The relevant guidance is in The Health Protection Regulations 2020, Music activities are not included in the list of reasonable excuses for having gatherings over 30 and Part 4, regulation 14B – (page 27) sates:

“No person may, without a reasonable excuse, be involved in organising a relevant unlicensed music event.

For the purposes of this regulation “relevant unlicensed music event” means an event—

  1. which consists of more than 30 people,
  2. at which people are gathered in contravention of regulation 14(1) or 14A(1),
  3. at which music is played or performed for the purpose, or for purposes which include the purpose, of entertainment, and
  4. where the playing or performance of the music is—
    1. a licensable activity (within the meaning of the Licensing Act 2003(31)), and
    2. not carried on under and in accordance with an authorisation (within the meaning given by section 136(5) of that Act).”

It is not 100% clear how rehearsal fit into this – but our view is that groups should err on the side of caution and keep outdoor rehearsal to a maximum of 30 people.

That said the regulations do allow for outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people if authorised in writing by Welsh Ministers (see regulation 14A – page 26).

Local restrictions

As of 29 September: every single one of the current local restrictions in place says in the FAQs

Can I still see people outdoors?

Yes, up to a maximum of 30 people can meet outdoors but for the time being they will need to be people who also live in the [name of locked down local authority] area. You should continue to socially distance from people outside your household.

Therefore, local restrictions should not stop you meeting to rehearse outdoors in groups of 30.

It is important to note that local restrictions can change quickly so do keep referring to official guidance on local restrictions. 

So, what can we do outdoors?

  • Hold rehearsals of up to 30 people without specific permission. You should have done a risk assessment, have social distancing measures in place and follow Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts: Guidelines for phased return (see Meeting to rehearse safely below for more information).
  • Hold outdoor rehearsals of up to 100 permission with written permission from Welsh Ministers – to get these you will need to do a risk assessment and demonstrate how you will ensure the event is safe.
  • If a local lockdown is on place individuals should only attend rehearsals within their locked down area.

Meeting to rehearse safely

Whether meeting indoors or out it is paramount that you meet safely and in a COVID secure way. This is where the Rehearsing, Performing and taking part in the performing arts : Guidelines for phased return come in. 

Some general points:

  • The guidance makes no distinction between professional and non-professional groups (unlike the English equivalent) – the inference being is does apply to non-professionals.
  • It gives specific information for singing, wind, brass (part 3.19)
  • It gives specific information for other (non-singing, wind and brass) musical activity (part 13.20)

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

Some essentials are:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can groups do? 

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

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

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

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

Read the official guidance.  

 

The Arts Council Northern Ireland document: In the Bubble of Our Making: Reopening the Arts in Northern Ireland (based on official guidance) applies to professionals only. This means promoting groups that arrange performance by professionals can start to put on events again. 

The document says (page 48): Given the lower risk of transmission in an outdoor setting, consider the use of an outdoor performance space.

Indoor performances are not currently allowed. It was hoped they may be possible from 1 September, but on 27 August the NI Executive announced it could not relax Coronavirus restrictions and allow theatres and venues to reopen.

In their guidance for community centres it also says: “Events such as concerts/theatre are not permitted to take place in a council run Community Centre as part of this proposed easement.”

What can groups do? 

Read the official guidance.  

 

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

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

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

What can groups do? 

As of 16 October, new restrictions are in place for Northern Ireland for 4 weeks. Under these restrictions: 

In a private home / dwelling

  • 6 people from up to 2 households can rehearse outdoors in a private garden.
  • Households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes

Indoor and outdoor gatherings (excluding private homes / dwellings:

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

See the official government guidance for more inforation.  

What can groups do? 

  • Rehearse outdoors in a private garden with up to 6 people
  • Rehearse indoors or outdoors - not in a private home or garden in groups of up to 15.

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

For more information: