Face coverings and performing

Face coverings have become part of everyday life, and even as restrictions ease, it is likely they will continue to be around in some form for a while.

Updated: 19 January 2022 

The exact rules vary across the four UK nations, but currently (19 January) all four require face coverings to be worn indoors, with some exemptions based on activity. 

The guidance below is for consideration in situations where face coverings are not required.  Where face coverings are required by law then you should of course follow comply with that. See our Guidance tool for up-to-date information in each nation.

Face coverings at outdoor rehearsals

This is a simple one - the advice for outdoor activities is that face coverings aren’t required and the risk of transmission outside is significantly lower. So there is no need to wear them for outdoor rehearsals – although people may choose to of course.

Face coverings at indoor rehearsals

There are two considerations here:

  1. Wearing face coverings whilst not actually rehearsing (e.g. entering and leaving the room, during breaks etc.).

This is also pretty simple at the moment – as face coverings are required indoors and so should be worn at these times. 

  1. Wearing face coverings while singing.

There are exceptions in some nations for wearing face coverings whilst actually singing or playing. See our Covid tool for current information.

Where exemptions do apply, it is worth remembering that they do not have to be used, and you might decide to still use face coverings.

We know this can be a tricky and divisive issue for groups. Unfortunately, there are no simple answers. The exemptions do allow for the possibility of not wearing coverings, and an individual may choose to act on those exemptions.

We suggest the committee decide on a preferred approach to wearing face coverings whilst singing / playing and ask that members adhere to it. You could also ask members to remember that you are trying to create a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone, and to respect each other’s choices.  

It also worth remember that if you ask people to wear face coverings and they choose not to you might have to introduce additional mitigations (see below). 

If you do decide to use the exemptions the justification should form part of your risk assessment.

Singing: this does increase the number of aerosols expelled and so an infected person could spread droplets over a larger area. As such it does carry some increased risks. 

One option is to keep wearing a face covering while singing (unless you are exempt): 

  • Singing in a face covering may not be ideal, but is not impossible. The aim is to make rehearsals as safe as practically possible, with a range of measures that reduce risk to an acceptable level. Wearing a face covering while singing is a practical measure that will reduce that risk. 
  • It would also allow you to maximise the number that can rehearse as wearing face coverings means that you could have less stringent distancing measures (see below).
  • There are also masks available designed specifically for singing (see below).

If you decide to use an exemption for singing, official guidance might say extra measures have to put in place, but even if it doesn’t, we would recommend having additional mitigations:

  • 1 or 2m radius physical distancing around each singer, and singers facing away from each other / side by side
  • Singers facing away from instrumentalists / conductor - and at least 1 or 2 m distance.
  • Singers at least 2m - ideally more - from front row of audience
  • Partitions (remember to clean them often)

Wind and Brass: there are exemptions that allow for face coverings to be removed when they would stop an individual carrying out an activity. This clearly would apply to wind and brass players. See our Covid tool for current guidance in each nation.

Strings and percussion keys: these activities are possible with face coverings, but some exemptions allow for them not to be worn if there is a legitimate reason not to. What might constitute a legitimate reason is not always clear. See our Covid tool for current guidance in each nation. These activities are generally lower risk than singing. If coverings are not worn, additional mitigations should be considered.

Face coverings for singing 

We have gathered together a list of face covering providers below, and would like to thank the Association of British Choral Directors for helping us to collate these.

Sing Safe, a Making Music Corporate Member, is a silicon insert that's durable and worn underneath your mask to keep it off your mouth, allowing you to sing comfortably and confidently while keeping you and others safe. Making Music members receive a 10% discount

General government guidance on face coverings 

Northern Ireland

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.