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

Latest update:

  • England: rehearsals 12 April, and performances 1 April  
  • Northern Ireland: rehearsals and performances - 26 February
  • Scotland: rehearsals and performances - 14 April   
  • Wales: rehearsals and performances - 7 April

What country is your group based in?

Do you want:  

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: 

    Youth groups

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

    Music in churches

    There are some different rules for music in churches. These relate to music as part of worship only - and do not apply to hiring a church for a group rehearsal.


    Provisional roadmap

    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.


    Youth Groups

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

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

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

    What can youth groups do? 

    From 29 March

    Outdoor: the guidance states:

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

    And later

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

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

    Indoor: 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

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

     

    Specific guidance for non-professionals

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

    • Ensure that your activity is permitted. You must adhere to the legal gathering limits and any other restrictions, such as venue closures.
    • 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.

     

     

    The roadmap out of lockdown in England released by the UK government on 22 February does not signal an immediate change for leisure time music performances.

    DCMS updated their Performing Arts Guidance on 15 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 events  below). 

    DCMS have also previously pointed us towards the Government guidance on Reopening businesses and venues which does set out a provisional road map of when public performances might be able to return. We have set out as much as we can below.

    What can my group do?

    At the moment public performances are not possible – and there is no firm date for when they might be.

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

    Music in churches

    There are some different rules for music in churches. These relate to performance of music as part of worship only - and do not apply to hiring a church for a performance. 


    Provisional roadmap

    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 that set out when groups might be able to put on public performances 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.

    Step two (12 April earliest)

    Most outdoor and all indoor events are not possible at step two. 

    Only drive-in performance events are possible, with some conditions:

    • Completing a relevant risk assessment (see COVID secure events below).
    • Having measures in place to mitigate risk (see COVID secure events 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 can be more than the social contact limit – but that they must always remain in sub-groups within social contact limits. This applies to both audiences and those running the event and performing.
        • Audience: The social contact limit at this step will be six people or two households. You could have a larger audience than this, but they would have to stay in sub-groups of six people or two households. With no mixing / switching between the sub-groups.
        • Running event / performers: the same applies here – you can more than six but they must stay within sub-groups of six with no mixing.
        • Making Music advise that for those running the event and performers you go further than this and treat everyone as a sub-group of one – and do not allow any mixing at all. This will mean your rules can be very simple and clear and make the performance much easier to manage.

     

    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 both indoor and outdoor performances will be possible in step three, with some conditions and capacity limits: 

    • Completing a relevant risk assessment (see COVID secure events below).
    • Having measures in place to mitigate risk (see COVID secure events 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 can be more than the social contact limit – but that they must always remain in sub-groups within social contact limits. This applies to both audiences and those running the event and performing.
        • Audience: The social contact limit at this step will be six people or two households. You could have a larger audience than this (within allowed capacity, see below), but they would have to stay in sub-groups of six people or two households. With no mixing / switching between the sub-groups.
        • Running event / performers: the same applies here – you can more than six but they must stay within sub-groups of six with no mixing.
        • Making Music advise that for those running the event and performers you go further than this and treat everyone as a sub-group of one – and do not allow any mixing at all. This will mean your rules can be very simple and clear and make the performance much easier to manage.

    Capacity limits 

    • Indoor events: a maximum of 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower.
    • Outdoor performances: maximum of 4,000 people or 50% of total capacity, whichever is lower. For venues that do not have a fixed capacity or have a transient audience (e.g., park bandstand) these limits do not apply, but groups are expected to manage audiences in-line with DCMS guidance, and local authority advice. You can read our resource ‘Managing a moving audience outdoors in Covid times’ for more information. DCMS will also be updating their guidance on managing audience ahead of step three, which we hope will provide more details on transient audiences.

    Step four (21 June earliest)

    All measures lifted with no limits on social contact. this would mean groups can get back to putting on full sized performances. There will be a review into what continuing measures and mitigations might still be needed at this stage – we will provide more detail once it is known.


    COVID secure events and Risk Assessments

    When public performances can go ahead again, indoors or out, all groups should undertake a comprehensive risk assessment and put in place strong risk mitigation measures.

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

    You should also read the DCMS guidance in full.

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

    DCMS priority actions:

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

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

     

    Specific guidance for non-professionals

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

    • Ensure that your activity is permitted. You must adhere to the legal gathering limits and any other restrictions, such as venue closures.
    • 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.

     

     

    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:

     

    Roadmap out of lockdown 

    The Scottish Government have published some indicative dates for when areas will move out of lockdown, and what will be possible at different protection levels.

    Indicative dates

    • 26 April: mainland Scotland and islands at Level 4 move to Level 3. Islands remain at Level 3.
    • 17 May: all of Scotland (mainland and islands) will move to Level 2
    • June (early): all of Scotland will move to Level 1
    • June (late): all of Scotland will move to Level 0

    Protection levels 

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

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

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

    The performing arts guidance is due to be published and will provide an operational guide for organised groups. Organisers will have a duty to ensure compliance with physical distancing (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising), hygiene measures and other guidance.

    What can groups do?

    • From 26 April (indicative) – no outdoor or indoor group activity
    • From 17 May (indicative) – outdoors organised activity
    • From early June (indicative) – outdoors and indoors group activity within the restrictions laid out in performing arts guidance (to be published)

    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:

     

    Roadmap out of lockdown  

    The Scottish Government have published some indicative dates for when areas will move out of lockdown, and what will be possible at different protection levels

    Indicative dates

    • 26 April: mainland Scotland and islands at Level 4 move to Level 3. Islands remain at Level 3.
    • 17 May: all of Scotland (mainland and islands) will move to Level 2
    • June (early): all of Scotland will move to Level 1
    • June (late): all of Scotland will move to Level 0

    Protection levels 

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

    From the Stadia and Events section: 

    • Level 4 – closed
    • Level 3 - Closed with the exception of drive in events
    • Level 2 – Permitted with relevant physical distancing requirements and maximum capacities*
      • Indoors: 100
      • Outdoors seated: 500
      • Outdoors free-standing: 250
    • Level 1 - Permitted with relevant physical distancing requirements and maximum capacities*
      • Indoors: 200
      • Outdoors seated: 1,000
      • Outdoors free-standing: 500
    • Level 0 - Permitted with relevant physical distancing requirements and maximum capacities*
      • Indoors: 400
      • Outdoors seated: 2,000
      • Outdoors free-standing: 1,000

    The performing arts guidance is due to be published and will provide an operational guide for organised groups. Organisers will have a duty to ensure compliance with physical distancing, hygiene measures and other guidance.

    What can groups do?

    • From 26 April (indicative) – drive in events
    • From 17 May (indicative) – indoor and outdoor events with physical distancing requirements and maximum capacities:
      • Indoors: 100
      • Outdoors seated: 500
      • Outdoors free-standing: 250
    • From early June (indicative) – indoor and outdoor events with physical distancing requirements and maximum capacities:
      • Indoors: 200
      • Outdoors seated: 1,000
      • Outdoors free-standing: 500
    • From late June (indicative) – indoor and outdoor events with physical distancing requirements and maximum capacities:
      • Indoors: 400,
      • Outdoors seated: 2,000
      • Outdoors free-standing: 1,000

     

     

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

    Wales is currently at alert level four, but some changes came in on 27 March which apply during the move from level four to three.

    Level 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 level four restrictions we do not think it includes music group activity.

    27 March changes 

    A maximum of 6 people from 2 households can meet socially outdoors including in private gardens. This means 6 people from 2 households can meet and rehearse outside in a private garden or public space.  Anyone meeting in public should think carefully about what might happen if people stop and watch – which is not a permitted activity

    So, what can my group do?

    6 people from 2 households can meet to rehearse.

    Groups cannot meet in person in larger numbers than this. Larger numbers can of course still rehearse online: 

    You can plan for how to rehearse safely in person once the restriction allow. (COVID secure rehearsals below)

    Road out of lockdown

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

    There are no firm dates for when alert levels and restrictions might change. There are indicative dates for when rehearsals might be possible:

    • 26 April - organised outdoor activity - up to a maximum of 30 people
    • 17 May - organised indoor activity - of up to a maximum of 15 people.

    These size limits would not increase until alert level 1 when they will be 100 and 50 respectively.

    These dates are pending confirmation. We will update this page once we have more concrete information and guidance. 

    COVID secure rehearsals

    When in person rehearsal are possible again doing a risk assessment will be essential, 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 uses a four level alert system. Level one has the least restrictions and level four the most.

    Wales is currently at alert level four.

    Level four

    • Public performances, indoor or out, are not possible under level four restrictions.
    • Concert halls are closed, and places of worship and community centres are open only for essential public services.

    Some changes came in on 27 March which apply during the move from level four to level three. However, these do not affect public performances.

    What can groups do? 

    Road out of lockdown

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

    There are no firm dates for when alert levels and restrictions might change. There are indicative dates for some changes:

    • 26 April - organised outdoor activity – up to a maximum 30 people
    • 17 May - organised indoor activity - up to a maximum 15 people

    We are not sure if these relate to public performances or not. Our assumption at the moment is that they don’t – and so public performances would not be allowed at these dates. In any case, the size limits would make a public performance with audience more or less impossible.

    We will try and get clarification on how and where public performances fit into the strategic plan and update this page with more details once we have them.

     

    National lockdown update  

    Current lock down measures are in place with the next review due on 15 April. 

    The two key current messages are;

    • “You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes).
    • You should not travel more than 10 miles from your home in order to take exercise.”

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

    On gathering indoor and outdoor the guidance says:

    “Up to six people (including children of all ages) from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors, or in non-domestic indoor settings for a permitted reason.”

    In person Music performances are not a permitted reason so cannot take place under current lockdown measures.


    Pathway out of restations

    The Northern Ireland Executive have released a document detailing the pathway out of lockdown and restrictions.

    There are three Dates for Comprehensive Formal Reviews:

    • 15 April
    • 13 May
    • 10 June 

    Between each date the data will be analysed for a 3-week period. The Executive will then review the data for a further week and make a decision on the next step out of restrictions. 

    There are nine pathways for different parts of society. There are two pathways that are potentially relevant for live music performances: Culture, Heritage & Entertainment and Hospitality.

    Each pathway has a five-phase approach going form: phase one ‘lockdown’ (current phase) to phase five ‘preparing for the future’ (this is not no restrictions at all – but more of a middle ground between restrictions relaxing and things getting back to normal).

    Live performances seem likely to be in phase four.

    • The Culture, Heritage & Entertainment pathway mentions ‘Attend a small outdoor organised event’ as an example of what might be possible in phase four.
    • The Hospitality pathway lists “Meet friends for food with a live musician playing” at phase four.

    We do not know when phase four will start or exactly what restrictions will be in place. Sometime in June seems like a possibility at the moment, but that is subject to review dates and confirmation.

    We will keep this page updated as we know more.

     


    What can groups do? 

    Online Performances

    Groups can organise online livestream performances, with artists performing from concert venues without an audience or from their own homes (max. 6 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? 

    National lockdown update 

    Current lock down measures are in place with the next review due on 15 April. 

    The two key current messages are;

    • “You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes).
    • You should not travel more than 10 miles from your home in order to take exercise.”

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

    On gathering indoor and outdoor the guidance says:

    “Up to six people (including children of all ages) from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors, or in non-domestic indoor settings for a permitted reason.”

    Music rehearsals are not a permitted reason so in person rehearsals are not possible under current lockdown measures.


    Pathway out of restrictions

    The Northern Ireland Executive have released a document detailing the pathway out of lockdown and restrictions.

    There are three dates for Comprehensive Formal Reviews:

    • 15 April
    • 13 May
    • 10 June 

    Between each date the data will be analysed for a 3-week period. The Executive will then review the data for a further week and make a decision on the next step out of restrictions. 

    There are nine pathways for different parts of society. The pathway relevant to rehearsals for music groups is Culture, Heritage & Entertainment 

    Each pathway has a five-phase approach going form: phase one ‘lockdown’ (current phase) to phase five ‘preparing for the future’ (this is not no restrictions at all – but more of a middle ground between restrictions relaxing and things getting back to normal).

    Groups being able to rehearse together seems likely to be in phase three. Indeed “A band can practise together” is specifically mentioned as an example of what might be possible in phase three of Culture, Heritage & Entertainment pathway.

    We do not know when phase three will start or exactly what restrictions will be in place. Sometime in May seems like a possibility at the moment, but that is subject to review dates and confirmation.

    We will keep this page updated as we know more.


    What can groups do? 

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

    Plan for how to return safely when you can (see below)

    Meeting to rehearse safely 

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

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

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

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

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

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