The roadmap out of lockdown in England released by the UK Government on 22 February does not specially mention music and nor does it signal an immediate change in what groups can do.
However, it does allow for some very limited activity from 29 March and sets out a provisional road map of when fuller activities might be able to return.
DCMS updated their Performing Arts Guidance on 15 March and again on 31 March. This focuses on what groups can do currently and unfortunately does not cover what will be possible as we move along the road map and out of lockdown. It does have some specific guidance for non-professionals once they can return (see COVID secure rehearsals below).
What can my group do?
From 29 March
DCMS guidance specifically mentions non-professional activity and allows for activity to take place within social contact limits. This means Six people or two households can meet outside to rehearse. This can be in a public place or private garden. Anyone meeting in public should think carefully about what might happen if people stop and watch – which is not a permitted activity.
The guidance states:
"Outdoors, non-professional performing arts activity will be permitted from 29 March, within the legal gathering limits. People can take part in non-professional performing arts activity outdoors in groups of up to 6 people, or as a group of 2 households. A group made up of 2 households can include more than 6 people, but only where all members of the group are from the same 2 households or an exemption applies (for example a support bubble). Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a bubble."
DCMS have also previously pointed us towards the Government guidance on Reopening businesses and venues to provide clarity on how the road map will affect leisure time music. We have based our guidance below on this.
From 12 April
The government have confirmed step two will go ahead as planned but there is still some uncertainty around what is possible.
DCMS have also previously pointed us towards the Government guidance on Reopening businesses and venues to provide clarity on how the road map will affect leisure time music. This suggests outdoor organised rehearsals would be possible at step two.
However, DCMS have since told us there will be no changes to what non-professional activity can take place at step two.
This means, as per 29 March guidance above, activity can take place within social contact limits. Which is six people, or two households meeting outside to rehearse.
DCMS have not updated the Performing Arts Guidance to reference step two yet – and we will push for more information as to why outdoor rehearsals are not included in permitted outdoor activity referenced in the Reopening businesses and venues. But until then activity should only take place within social contact limits - six people, or two households meeting outside.
Larger numbers can of course still rehearse online:
There is separate guidance and restrictions for youth groups (where all members were under 18 as of 31 August 2020) – see Youth Groups below for more details.
Music in churches
There are some different rules for music in churches. These relate to music as part of worship only - and do not apply to hiring a church for a group rehearsal.
DCMS have pointed us towards the Government guidance on Reopening businesses and venues to provide clarity on how the road map will affect leisure time music.
Below are some provisional dates and activities that set out what groups might be able to do further down the line based on the Reopening businesses and venues guidance. The dates are the earliest possible dates the government has said activities might be able to take place. It is all subject to government review and confirmation, which we expect to get approximately a week before each of the dates below.
We anticipate that DCMS will release more information on each step of the road map at a later date and will update this page when they do.
Step two: 12 April
The Government confirmed that step two will go ahead as planned on 12 April. But there remains uncertainty around non-professional rehearsals - see 'What can my group do above'
Step three (17 May earliest)
The Government guidance on Reopening businesses and venues says:
"At this step, both outdoor and indoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for organised sport or exercise, supervised activities for children or a significant life event)."
So, indoor and outdoor rehearsals will be possible in step three with no formal limits on numbers but with some conditions:
- Completing a relevant risk assessment (see COVID secure rehearsals below).
- Having measures in place to mitigate risk (see COVID secure rehearsals below).
- Managing numbers safely within social contact limits: “those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits...”
- This means that the total number of people attending a rehearsal can be more than the social contact limit – but that they must always remain in sub-groups within social contact limits.
- So, indoors the social contact limit at this step will be 6. If your venue would safely allow for 42 people (as an example) to attend, all 42 could attend but they would have to stay in a maximum of 7 sub-groups of 6 people. With no mixing / switching between the sub-groups.
- Making Music advise that you go further than this and treat everyone as a sub-group of 1 – and don’t allow for any mixing. This will mean your rules can be very simple and clear and make the rehearsal much easier to manage.
Step four (21 June earliest)
The government hope to lift remove all social contact limits at this step. There will be more information on this nearer time following government reviews, in particular a promised government review as to when specific mitigations are no longer necessary, e.g. face masks, social distancing etc.
There is separate Government guidance for youth groups called Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
It applies to formal education settings, extra-curricular activities in schools and government defined out-of-school setting providers (e.g. Ofsted registered). But it also references ‘community activities’ and ‘providers of youth services and activities’. As such youth groups that are not affiliated to a school or Ofsted registered are covered by this guidance.
It is important to note that the guidance is for groups providing services for children who were under the age of 18 on 31 August 2020. So, all your members must meet this criteria.
What can youth groups do?
From 29 March
Outdoor: the guidance states:
“Outdoor provision to all children, without restrictions on the purpose for which they may attend.”
“Additionally, if the activity is taking place outdoors, groups can be of any number. This is because the transmission risk is lower outside.”
So outdoor rehearsals are possible with no formal limit on numbers. However, you should still think about total numbers and what is a safe number (see Risk assessments and mitigations below).
Indoor: this is possible from 29 March but only to certain groups / in certain circumstances:
- “vulnerable children and young people, under any circumstances
- children on free school meals, where they are attending as part of the Department for Education’s holiday activities and food programme.
- all other children, where the provision is one of the following:
- reasonably necessary to enable their parents and carers to work, search for work, undertake education or training, or attend a medical appointment or address a medical need, or attend a support group.
- being used by electively home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education.
- being used as part of their efforts to obtain a regulated qualification, meet the entry requirements for an education institution, or to undertake exams and assessments”
Our view is that these circumstances will most apply to formal education settings, extra-curricular activities in schools and government defined out-of-school setting providers (e.g. Ofsted registered) and might not be relevant to independent youth music groups.
From 12 April (step two)
The government have confirmed that step two will go ahead as planned from 12 April.
“out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare providers can offer provision to all children, without restriction on the reasons for which they may attend”.
So indoor rehearsals are possible with no formal limit on numbers. However, you should still think about total numbers and what is a safe number (see below).
Risk Assessment and mitigations
It is essential you do a risk assessment and have measures in place to mitigate risk.
Whilst there is no limit on numbers, you should think about what is a safe number and as well as limiting mixing between children (such as using sub-groups or ‘bubbles’).
The COVID secure rehearsals section below which references DCMS guidance and our risk assessment guidance and template will help with this. But you should also refer to:
COVID secure rehearsals
When in person rehearsals can go ahead again all groups should undertake a comprehensive risk assessment and put in place strong risk mitigation measures.
Read the Making Music resource Risk assessment for COVID secure rehearsals including a template risk assessment to find out more.
You should also read the DCMS guidance in full. We have pulled out the 7 priority actions you must take as an organisation below, along with the specific guidance for non-professionals.
The 7 priority actions you must take as an organisation
- Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your stakeholders.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.
- 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*
- Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If an attendee (or someone in their household) has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating.
Specific guidance for non-professionals
DCMS have also set out some measures for non-professionals to consider (some are specific to singing). They overlap with the 7 priority actions above, so we are just listing additional measures below. You should take the 7 above and the additional measures below as a whole.
- Ensure that your activity is permitted. You must adhere to the legal gathering limits and any other restrictions, such as venue closures.
- Practice and perform outdoors where possible. If you have to be indoors, you should use large, well-ventilated spaces, and improve ventilation as far as possible through mechanical systems or keeping windows and doors open.
- Limit the number of people involved. The cumulative effect of aerosol transmission means that the more people who are involved, the higher the risk of transmission (to each other or an audience). It is therefore important to limit the total number of individuals involved in singing or other performing arts activity as much as possible. If a larger number of people need to be involved in an activity, this should only take place in a well-ventilated COVID-secure venue or outdoor public space, and in line with regulations (such as the legal gathering limits) and the guidance set out on this page.
- Limit the duration of activity as far as possible, and include breaks/intervals where people can go outside and/or the area can be aired.
- Where possible, avoid raised voices. Consider reducing the volume of speaking and singing during rehearsals and performances, and use microphones (if available) rather than breath for amplification.
- Mitigate high-risk activities, such as singing. Singing and shouting increase the risk of transmission, so you should only include singing by performers where necessary, and take the following steps to minimise risk:
- Avoid face-to-face singing and ensure that social distancing is maintained by spacing singers at least 2 metres apart in all directions. If you apply additional measures or controls (such as wearing face coverings, increasing ventilation or performing outdoors) this distance can be reduced, but there should always be at least 1m between people who do not live together or share a support bubble).
- Where possible, reduce the volume of singing during rehearsals and performances, and use microphones (if available) rather than breath for amplification. Singing at a high volume can generate 20-30 times more aerosol than quiet speaking or singing.
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.