Risk assessment for COVID secure performances

After more than a year of constantly changing regulations in all four nations of the UK, we have rewritten this guide and brought it in line with the newest reduced restrictions and guidance, and also the latest thinking on Covid-19 transmission risks and how to mitigate against them.

The main government guidance our sector falls under has changed and now comes under general Events and Attractions guidance

  • It is for England, but many of the principles apply for all UK nations. 
  • It does not specifically mention leisure-time music activity - but it is the relevant guidance for venues, and for groups organising activities in those venues. 
  • It makes no distinction between professional and non-professional activity.

If all restrictions are being removed, why would we still need to do a risk assessment and put mitigations in place?

Covid-19 is still with us and new variants are still emerging. All activity is now permitted (soon in all four UK nations), but that does not mean it is permitted without any consideration for the transmission risks which that activity may bring with it.

Whether you are one of our promoter member groups who organise performances by professional musicians or a performing group who are ready to perform in front of people again, as the people in charge of a music group, you continue to have a duty of care towards your members, participants and audiences when you organise events.

Government guidance in all nations is increasingly placing the responsibility at organisations’ door to assess Covid-19 transmission risks and to mitigate them appropriately – gone, for the moment at least, are strict rules to adhere to or interpret.

This is good news: every music group is different and is based in a different geographical location. A risk assessment means you can take into account the unique nature of your group and put the relevant mitigations in place to reflect that.

But: it means you have to do the thinking and planning – the governments are not doing it for you.

Making Music have created this resource to help you with that. While it does not write the risk assessment for you, it raises the questions your group should be asking itself and gives you possible mitigation solutions to the risk of Covid-19 being transmitted at an event you organise.

Please also note this resource is about performances involving a live audience. For rehearsals see our separate risk assessment guidance.  

  1. Key questions to address
  2. Key conversations to have
  3. Key considerations
  4. Risk assessment
  5. Final thoughts and templates 

Section one: Key questions to address

  1. What are you allowed to do?

At the moment we are moving in to a period where most restrictions are being lifted in all four nations, but they may well return and/or continue to differ across the UK, so check our guidance tool once a week for changes – we update this constantly with new information.

  1. What is the situation in your area?

At the moment all guidance is national with no local restrictions - but keeping an eye on data in your area can help inform what you do. A surge in local hospitalisations might make you consider postponing a performance or adding additional measures. The government coronavirus data summary, updated daily, allows you to drill down into postcodes and local areas.

  1. What are you trying to achieve with your risk assessment and mitigations?
  • That no-one who is knowingly infectious attends your activity
  • That if someone (who is unknowingly) infectious attends, no-one else gets infected from that person
  1. What are the risks now considered to be?
  • Aerosols. These pose the biggest risk. They are the smallest particles that we breathe out and carry the virus if we have Covid-19.
    • Being lighter than air, they will float around according to the air flow in that space. Unless you’re a physicist, it will be hard to work out whether the airstream from the violins will end up in the clarinets or in the audience.
    • Being so light, they also linger in the air for much longer than larger particles. Think cigarette smoke or perfume, which you can often detect in a room way after the smoker or scented person has left.
    • Mitigations:
  • Droplets. These are larger and heavier particles than aerosols and can vary in size.
    • Because these are heavier they fall to the ground sooner, but you don’t know quite where or when. There is evidence to show that larger particles do not travel beyond 2 metres from the originating person, hence – until now – the requirement for 2 metres social distancing.
    • Mitigations:
  • Surfaces. They could be contaminated if someone has sneezed or coughed on them or touched them.
    • Mitigations:
      • hand washing/hand sanitising
      • frequent cleaning of surfaces
  1. Do people want to perform?

It’s a safe bet that professionals will be ready to get back to live performing as soon as they can but will have concerns. For performing groups, where your members are the performers, don’t assume that after months of not singing / playing at all or only doing so on Zoom, that they are ready to jump straight back into public performance. 

  1. What measures are you going to keep?

If tickets were sold for an event before restrictions were lifted, even though that event is taking place post restrictions being lifted, there is an argument to say you should keep all measures in place. Audiences might reasonably expect that measures in place when the tickets were sold are those in place when the event happens.

For future events you might look at easing some measures, but that doesn’t mean getting rid of everything. You might decide to keep some some measures that are no longer required by law or in the guidance (depending on the nation):

  • Social distancing – helps mitigate droplet risk, and there is a case to be made for keeping some distancing (e.g. 1 metre - see Social Distancing
  • Face coverings – helps mitigate aerosol and droplet risk, and there is a case to be made for using them indoors, especially in small, crowded spaces with bad ventilation. (see Face coverings)
  • Vaccinations - these are a key reason for the easing of restrictions. As more people are vaccinated, the risks of getting Covid-19 from or spreading it to others are reduced. But they do not mean you can remove other mitigations, and you need to be careful about using vaccination status as part of your planning (see Vaccination and testing status).
  1. What will make your audience feel comfortable?

Live music has been missing from people’s lives for a long time, so some of your audience will be rareing to come back, whilst others will have some trepidation. Getting a feel for the mood of your audience is important.

There has been some useful and interesting research on how audiences feel about returning.

Once you have a clear idea of how an event will work and what measures will be in place, tell your audience about it and ask for feedback. It’s likely there will be a range of views, from not bothered about any measures being in place, to only feeling comfortable if certain measures are in place. If the overriding message is that they are not comfortable, then you might have to rethink.

  1. Is the venue suitable and as safe as it can be?

This will depend to some extent on the mitigations you want. Key considerations:

  • Ventilation – this is crucial and you should not compromise on it (see Ventilation); is it possible to achieve acceptable ventilation; what is the gap between users/hirers and the airing regime; and who is responsible?
  • Cleanliness – what happens between users/hirers and who is responsible?
  • Size – is it still suitable if you have to / want to maintain some degree of distancing?
  • Approach: are they on top of their own risk assessments and procedures?

Read the Making Music resource on finding a venue.

  1. There may be an ideal plan – but can you afford it in terms of time and money?
  • If audiences don’t feel comfortable with no social distancing, that might mean a much larger venue, or doing the performance twice to smaller audiences. Is that affordable and realistic for your group?
  • Do you have enough volunteers to run your new-look events?
  • If some audiences don’t feel happy going to live performances, could you livestream the performance and have an in-person and online audience? It comes with extra complexity and cost, but helps keep people engaged and potentially opens up new audiences.

 


Section two: Key conversations to have

The committee

The group of people in charge of your organisation are all collectively responsible, so they need to agree a plan of action together. They will be the ones making the key decisions above and so they should be the first people to meet.

Make sure that is understood that everyone is contributing and participating in decision-making. If you appoint one ‘Covid-19 guru’, you are still all responsible, so make sure that person or that sub-committee keeps the whole committee informed of what they are doing.

The Performers

Professionals:  It seem likely most professional musicians will be happy to get back to live performing again, but they may have certain areas of concern, such as travel. Have conversations as early as you can and make sure you can demonstrate how you will make it a safe environment.

Agreeing terms around having to cancel due to Covid-19 will be important too:

  • Postponing rather than cancelling is a good option – but be clear about how soon and under what circumstances re-arranging will happen.
  • Cancellation fees is obviously another factor, you may not be able to afford any or you might consider a sliding scale where you pay something/more if the cancellation happens very close to the event – after all, the professional will have invested time and effort into preparing for the concert.

Also talk to them about the possibility of livestreaming.

Members: don’t assume that because they are happy to rehearse, your members are also happy to perform:

  • They might not be comfortable musically having been away / online for so long and rushing into a performance before they are ready might put some off. Of course some might be itching to get back in front of the public, so try and be accommodating to all if you can – does everyone who rehearses have to perform? 
  • A public performance carries with it different Covid-19 risks to a rehearsal, so consult with your members to understand how they feel.

Performance space

Your working relationship with the venue is very important. Start your conversations early to make sure you have a clear picture of whether they are happy to have you back, what they would expect of you and who is responsible for what.

The venue will want to be sure that you have systems in place which work alongside theirs seamlessly and don’t compromise their own risk assessment. They will not just be thinking about your group, but all the other groups using their venue all through the day and the week, so they will be designing systems and protocols to manage the varied risks associated with a multiple use venue.

But you will also want – and need – to be sure that the venue is fulfilling its duties to keep the public safe, so that your activity can take place in the manner that you consider to be safe. So:

  • Ask to see their risk assessment and/or ask them what they are doing with regard to the 6 priority actions (see section below).
  • Go and see what they have in place for yourself and in particular to discuss ventilation (see Ventilation below). You may want to do this with a CO2 monitor, to measure air quality.
  • Of particular interest to you will also be what is happening in the space before you arrive and whether there is a cleaning and ventilation plan in place between different occupants of the space.
  • Be flexible when you can, as they will probably be juggling a lot of different hirers, but if you are unhappy about their risk assessment and don’t consider them a safe venue, take action: either plan for your group to make the space safe (e.g. arriving early to ventilate properly) or consider a different venue – you are responsible for your activities and audiences.
  • The other aspect to consider (raised by the Events Research Programme) is not just to think about your group once they’re in the space and sitting down, but where in the venue there are pinch points, e.g. entrance/exit, toilets, where the interval takes place etc. It is still desirable to avoid bunching people in close proximity; you can manage such pinch points if you are aware of them, so look at your venue with fresh eyes.

Section three: Key considerations

Face coverings

It is worth quoting the entire section from the guidance:

"Encourage customers and visitors to wear face coverings, for example through signage, if your facility or event is likely to include enclosed and crowded spaces.

Face coverings are no longer required by law, but the government expects and recommends that people should continue to wear them in crowded and enclosed settings, to protect themselves and others. Where worn correctly, this can reduce the risk of transmission.

Your workers may choose to wear a face covering in the workplace. You should support them in doing so, and ensure they are aware of guidance on using face coverings safely.

Consider recommending the use of face coverings by workers and customers as a safety measure, in enclosed and crowded spaces where they may come into contact with people they don’t normally meet. When deciding whether you will ask workers or customers to wear face coverings:

  • You need to consider the reasonable adjustments needed for workers and customers with disabilities. You also need to carefully consider how this fits with other obligations to workers and customers arising from the law on employment rights, health and safety and equality legislation.
  • You should not ask people to wear face coverings while taking part in any strenuous activity or sport.
  • Remember that some people are not able to wear face coverings, and the reasons for this may not be visible to others. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances. Be aware that face coverings may make it harder to communicate with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound."

So it is clear that there is no legal requirement to wear them (in England), but that you should most certainly consider and debate the use of face coverings.

Chris Whitty said that he himself would continue wearing one in 3 instances:

  • Crowded badly ventilated indoor places where he was mixing with people he didn’t normally meet
  • If someone in authority who he trusted asked him to
  • When it made others uncomfortable if he wasn’t wearing one.

The first and last one of these may be relevant or should certainly be discussed before you take a decision. 

There is a recurring theme in all the new guidance about not discriminating against people with protected characteristics, so you should consider this for every measure you consider, including this one.

Ventilation

Because of the increased awareness of the role of aerosols in Covid-19 transmission, the scientists advising government are placing more and more emphasis on ventilation as a crucial tool in avoiding outbreaks.  

  • Outdoors activity is preferable as transmission risks are a fraction of those in enclosed spaces. Scientific advisors are particularly worried about the autumn/winter when people will increasingly congregate indoors and are more likely to close doors and windows against the cold.
  • Indoors in general presents a higher risk, but is worse when it’s crowded. Mitigations that reduce the number of people and time spent indoors can help here. Doing two smaller performances instead of one larger one, for example.
  • Indoors presents a particularly high risk if badly ventilated. We are already seeing a lot more emphasis on ventilation and this is likely to increase (see Risk assessment: Provide adequate ventilation for information on how to ventilate). 
Discrimination

There is some emphasis in new guidance reminding venues and organisations that they must not discriminate against people with protected characteristics. The quote below from the 'Managing your workforce' section of the guidance references workers, but it would be equally applicable to professionals, members, volunteers and audiences.

"Consider the impact of your policies on your workers.

  • Provide clear, consistent and regular communication to workers of any relevant safety measures or changes to policy/procedure. Engage with workers and worker representatives to explain and agree any changes in working arrangements.
  • Consider how this will affect staff with protected characteristics, and any adjustments you should make to take account of your duties under the equalities legislation.
  • It is breaking the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, ethnicity, sex or disability. Employers also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and those who are new or expectant mothers.
  • Discuss with disabled employees what reasonable adjustments can be made to the workplace so they can work safely.
  • Assess the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.
  • Make sure that the steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example, those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments."

Read the Making Music resource on An inclusive approach to COVID-secure activity.

 

Vaccination and test status

The vaccination and testing status of an individual does have a bearing on the risk they are exposed to and the risk they present to others. So both can be useful tools for your risk assessment.

  • Someone who is double jabbed is less likely to get seriously ill from Covid-19 and is less likely to spread Covid-19 to others.
  • Someone who has recently tested negative with a lateral flow test is less likely to be infectious.

But you have to be careful how you use this information to inform your plan:

  • Vaccination and testing are measures to go alongside others, not to replace them. So a room full of vaccinated people should still have mitigations in place, for now.
  • Collecting data opens you up to data protection issues.
  • Excluding people based on status opens you up to discrimination and reputational risks.

What are the options for finding out people’s status?

  1. NHS COVID Pass/vaccination certification (differs in the four nations)

The NHS COVID Pass is a way an individual in England can demonstrate that they are fully vaccinated, have had a recent negative test, or have natural immunity. Certification in the other nations is currently not as easy to obtain or as comprehensive (e.g. just vaccination status).

Find out more about Covid-19 certification in:

The Event and Attractions guidance (England) says organisations can consider asking individuals to show their NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass guidance says:

"Use of the NHS COVID Pass is voluntary for individual organisations. However, we encourage the use of the NHS COVID Pass in facilities or events where people are likely to be in close proximity to a large number of people from other households for a sustained period of time. This is likely to include settings that have the following characteristics:

  • crowded indoor settings such as nightclubs and music venues
  • large unstructured outdoor events such as business events and festivals
  • very large structured events such as business events, music and spectator sport events"

So, you don’t have to use it, but it is encouraged for some music events. ‘Structured’ seems to be about seating, and whilst there is no definition of ‘very large’ it seems fair to assume it is not the typical types of events our members put on.

As such we don’t think member groups’ events will usually meet the characteristic where it is encouraged, but the option of asking audiences to show an NHS COVID Pass/vaccine certification is there. The key things to consider are:

  • People don’t have to have the vaccine, or answer.
  • If they have not been vaccinated / won’t answer, what will you do?
  • If you exclude on this basis, you would be in danger of discriminating against protected characteristics, e.g. age (not everyone can have the vaccine).
  • Exclusion could be a difficult situation to manage and have a reputational impact. Using vaccination status as a condition might create more problems than it solves.
  • Vaccination status is not a replacement for other measures. The measures you should have in place anyway will protect anyone, vaccinated or not.
  • There is no issue here with collecting or storing medical data if you are only looking at their pass/status document, not keeping that information.
  1. Ask audiences about their vaccination and/or test status (e.g. when booking).
  • This has the same issues as above regarding requiring people to do it and excluding people on the basis of their answer or lack of answer.
  • If you ask for people’s names it creates a data protection issue, as you would be asking for and storing sensitive personal (medical) data.

It is a difficult area to know what do. Ultimately groups have to decide, but we think given the size and nature of the events our members typically put on, balanced against the practicalities of enforcing certification as a condition of entry and potential risks associated with that, the best approach is to encourage rather than enforce:

  • Politely ask that audiences members be vaccinated, but don’t make it a requirement
  • Have strong messaging on not attending if they could carry a risk (see 'Turn people with COVID-19 symptoms away'), and fair refund polices to back that up.

Potential future development (England)

It has been announced that double vaccination and/or Covid certification may become compulsory for certain events and settings in England from end of September. DCMS have said that the definition of these events and/or venues has not yet been decided, but essentially they are looking at what they call ‘unstructured events’ – i.e. non-seated (e.g. night clubs); and very large seated events.

This has not been confirmed yet and there are many issues which would need to be resolved, e.g. what about visitors from other UK nations which don’t have the same certification, what about under-18s who will not be offered the vaccines etc.

Personal responsibility of attendees

You, the committee, are responsible for performances that happen in a specific place at a specific time. But individuals have to take responsibility also, for:

  • making sure they don’t attend if:
    • they have Covid-19 symptoms 
    • they have tested positive
    • someone they have close contact with has tested positive
    • they have been told to self-isolate
    • they have had a recent positive lateral flow test  
  • their transport to events: you can perhaps provide guidance – e.g. car sharing vs public transport vs cycling etc., but ultimately individuals have to take responsibility for that.
  • their own health: you can mitigate and minimise risks but you can never eliminate the risk completely that they may be exposed to Covid-19 at a performance. They need to be aware of that and choose to attend – or not – depending on their own personal circumstances and health.
  • their behaviour at the event. Provided they receive clear instructions from you as to what they should do and how they should behave (e.g. use hand sanitiser, wear a face maks.), then you are fully within your rights to pull them up on their behaviour if they do not conform to those rules. And indeed to make it clear that if there is repeated breach of rules that you may ask them to leave.
Social distancing

It is now no longer a requirement to socially distance in England, but many people are anxious about it and you might decide (or audiences might want) to keep some level of social distancing. Or you may decide just to ask everyone to give others space and not to assume that suddenly hugging and kisses on the cheek are back on the agenda.

Whatever the decision you should communicate the approach clearly and ask that people are sensitive to other people's views.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

All three nations still have some social distancing measures in place (22 July 2021) see our guidance tool for up to date information. This will obviously impact the number of people that can be accommodated by a venue. Don’t just think about the auditorium, consider the capacity of all areas (e.g. toilets, intervals), how people flow around the venue, and measures needed to maintain social distancing throughout.

See Risk assessment: Social distancing for more detail

Section four: Risk assessment 

There are 6 priority actions you are asked to take in the guidance to keep attendees safe. These are listed first immediately below.

There are additional points you are asked to consider:

  • Each transmission risk (aerosol, droplets, surfaces) and your proposed mitigations (see What are the risks now considered to be, for details)
  • A plan in case someone is taken ill at your event
  • The impact of your plan on people with protected characteristics
  • The specific risks identified in relation to events 
  • Venue traffic flow and pinch points
  • Ancillary activity including refreshments/breaks/transport

Making Music suggests you also consider the risks to your organisation of:

  • running or not running in-person activity
  • the financial and administrative implications of your plans and mitigations
  • the risk of having to cancel

The six priority actions

1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes risks from COVID-19

This will include the following 5 points and others in the guidance, e.g. specific ones for events, and points that we have found need addressing for music groups.  

You can use Making Music’s new template. The Events and Attractions guidance also has a template, it is quite light touch, but useful to see.

2. Turn people with COVID-19 symptoms away

"Staff members or customers should self-isolate if they or someone in their household has a new, persistent cough; a high temperature; or loses/has changes to their sense of taste or smell, even if these symptoms are mild. They must also self-isolate if they or someone in their household has had a positive COVID-19 result, or if they have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace." (from the ‘Priority actions’ section of the Events and Attractions guidance

Stopping people with Covid-19 coming to your event is the best way to stop the spread. This largely comes down to personal responsibility on the individuals, but you do have a role to play by providing clear communication about when they shouldn’t attend and encourage them to consider things like transport routes. 

People should not attend if:  

  • they have Covid symptoms 
  • they have tested positive
  • someone they have close contact with has tested positive
  • they have been told to self-isolate
  • they have had a recent positive lateral flow test.  

"The use of temperature screening products is not recommended by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, as there is little scientific evidence to support temperature screening as a reliable method for detection of COVID-19, particularly for asymptomatic cases.(Reducing risk to customers section of the guidance). 

3. Provide adequate ventilation

There is now an entire section in the Events and Attractions guidance on ventilation – we encourage you to read this and act on it, it is really important. "You should make sure there is a supply of fresh air to enclosed spaces where there are people present. This can be natural ventilation through windows, doors and vents, mechanical ventilation using fans and ducts, or a combination of both. You should identify any poorly ventilated spaces in your premises and consider steps you can take to improve fresh air flow in these areas. In some places, a CO2 monitor can help identify if the space is poorly ventilated."

If people with Covid-19 do unwittingly attend your event, good ventilation is your best defence against spread. Address this as the number one issue for your activity and with your venue.

  • Natural ventilation: (i.e. doors and windows) can be very effective. Ideally they would be at opposite ends of a room to create cross flow. High up is good too, as the heat of bodies in the room will make aerosols rise and be sucked out via high windows
  • Fans: use them in the corners of rooms to prevent build up of stagnant air
  • CO2 monitors: these are very helpful in determining the air quality in a room;  CO2 presence does not mean there is also Covid-19 in the room, but if there is a lot of CO2 it means the air quality is bad and therefore if there was anyone with Covid-19 in the room, there could be a build-up of virus particles.
    • You can use them when you investigate your venue to establish if it has good ventilation:
      • Use them at head height near but not immediately in front of people
      • Depending on the size of your space you may need more than one
      • Under 800-1000ppm is good air quality
      • Anything above 1500ppm is not good ventilation and requires extra action (see mitigations below).
    • You can buy CO2 monitors for around £85-100. Avoid the very cheapest as they are not much use.
    • See also: 
  • Air purifiers: You can buy stand-alone HEPA filter machines but note they are quite expensive (£250 approx.) plus for a room of any size you would need several. One will ‘do’ a large classroom, for example, approx.. 140sqm.
  • Poor ventilation mitigations: If your venue is not well ventilated or quickly builds up stagnant air as revealed by the CO2 monitor, then consider:
    • Changing venue
    • Performing outdoors
    • Reducing audience capacity (e.g. two smaller performances instead of one larger one)
    • Shortening length of performance overall
    • An interval (assuming there is a safe place to have one and good traffic flow to/from it) to give yourself time to ventilate
    • Using face coverings
  • Making Music will roll out more information and events on this topic.
4. Clean more often

Transmission via surfaces is still a risk, so:

  • Continue to provide hand sanitiser and encourage hand washing
  • Talk to your venue about pre-clean before your activity, ensure either they or you clean….
    • Bathrooms/toilets
    • Commonly touched surfaces, e.g. door handles, kettles, taps
  • Provide more rubbish ‘stations’ and ensure rubbish emptied regularly

"You should not introduce measures which involve spraying people with disinfectants (such as in a tunnel, cabinet, or chamber) under any circumstances. You can find more information about these types of measures in the HSE guidance on disinfecting using fog, mist and other systems."  (Reducing risk to customers section of the guidance).

5. Enable people to check in at your venue

This is no longer a legal requirement but is being encouraged, in order to facilitate NHS Test and Trace.

  • Whether Test and Trace check-in is available is the venue’s decision. If they do it, make sure you know what they are expecting from you
  • If they don’t, you could consider getting an NHS Test and Trace QR code for your group, and ask people to scan it on entry.
6. Communicate and train
  • Communicate your plans and risk assessments to anyone attending. 
  • Provide clear information to your audience at the point of booking and in any reminder communications about how the event will work and what is expected of them as attendees. This could also be made available online.
  • Provide performers and volunteers with a simple sheet of instructions, including protocols and what is expected of them.
  • Have poster and visual information reminders of protocols (e.g. signs on hand washing, social distancing if you decide to maintain it, face coverings, traffic ‘controls’ etc.). Use the Making Music Covid poster templates

Additional points to consider and address in your risk assessment

Each of the 3 transmission routes (see What are the risks now considered to be)

Aerosols Droplets Surfaces
Turn people away*  Turn people away* Turn people away*
Ventilation  Social distance  Cleaning more often
Face coverings  Face coverings   
  Cleaning more often  

*with: symptoms, positive tests, close contact with someone who has Covid-19, told to self-isolate, need to quarantine after a visit abroad

Social distancing: You might decide or have to (depending on nation) keep some social distancing measures. Some options are

  • 2m at all times 
  • seating 2m in the auditorium  
  • 1m at all times 
  • seating 1m in the auditorium  
  • No social distancing but ask people to be respectful of each other’s space
  • Manage the overall audience number so that it would never get too crowded (even if no formal social distancing in place)
  • You could limit the number of people allowed in specific areas at any one time (e.g. dressing rooms,  toilets etc.)
  • You could have one way and/or queuing systems to control traffic flow at pinch points

Flow and pinch points: These will need to be addressed. Even if you are not using social distancing as one of your mitigations, you still have to ensure that there is no crowding of too many people together in a small space, such as at entrances and exits, toilet blocks, or during the interval.

Someone becomes ill during an event: Plan what to do if someone is taken ill during an event (unlikely during a short event but worth thinking about).

Discrimination: The impact of your plans on people with protected characteristics and the clinically vulnerable. Check out the government guidance on this, and also read the 7 Inclusive Principles for Arts and Cultural Organisations to help guide you.

Ticketing and donations: Pre-sold online tickets are the best way to reduce risk. They reduce contact points (no paper tickets, no cash exchanged) and allow you to manage numbers and plan the audience seating area.

That said door sales are allowed in most UK nations (see guidance tool for up-to-date information):

  • Keep a close track of numbers and don’t let in more people than you can safely manage
  • Use contactless card payments for door sales or donations (see our card reader guidance).
  • Make sure people attending on the day understand the rules in place and what is expected of them.  

Programmes: paper programmes are also potential shared touch points, so these could be emailed to attendees ahead of the event or made available on your website (useful if you do have people paying on the door).

Interval and refreshments: Intervals have the potential to create areas of risk as people will be moving around, and the space available to them might be less than in the auditorium.

That said, being sat in the same place for long periods is not ideal either. An interval with audiences leaving the auditorium should be considered in order to ventilate the space. Ideally, where possible, ask people to go outside.

Intervals are also a part of the event experience, so we understand that groups will want to try and keep them - and there is no reason you shouldn’t, as long as you can do it safely. An open mind to new ways of delivering might be needed.

Refreshments do present an area of increased risk. If the venue provides refreshments, you should follow their procedures and be led by them. If the venue does not provide them, think carefully about whether you will have them or not as they will create more work than usual. Allowing people to bring their own or having a pre-sale option included as part of the ticket price could help manage it.

Performers: Whether you are a promoter group engaging professional musicians or a performing group with members, providing a safe environment is essential. The same principles apply here as elsewhere (ventilation, cleaning and social distancing etc.) but some extra considerations are: 

  • Create a ‘performers only area’ (e.g. backstage, onstage and separate toilets for the performers, where possible), ideally with its own entry and exit points.
  • Make sure the area is well equipped with provisions to reduce the need for people to leave the area.
  • Can you ask performers to arrive dressed and bring their own refreshments? Or provide single-use pre-packed refreshments e.g. bottled water, packaged food
  • If you are having multiple performers, can you arrange the running order so they don’t have to cross / share backstage?  And clean key contact points (door handles etc) in between.
  • Ideally individuals will bring their own instruments / equipment and there is no sharing (e.g. of music stands, mutes, roisin etc.).
  • If equipment has to be shared or assistance is needed to move it, limit the number of people involved and provide hand sanitiser and disposable gloves. Always check with the owner that they are happy for other people to help too. 

Singing: There are some specific risks to consider for singing. The Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread guidance says:

“Some activities can increase the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19. This happens where people are doing activities which generate more particles as they breathe heavily, such as singing, dancing, exercising or raising their voices. You should consider the specific risks of your facility or event, and take additional care to manage situations where there is a higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19.”

As such if your performance includes singing we suggest you address the specific risk in your risk assessment. Some mitigations could include:

  • Keep 1m or 2m distance when singing
  • Sing side by side (not facing)
  • Position singers at the front / facing away from instrumentalists
  • Position at least 3m from first row of audience
  • Only sing in well ventilated spaces
  • Take regular breaks

Events: The Events and Attractions guidance has an Additional guidance for event organisers section. You have probably addressed these points already by this stage, but it’s worth cross-checking:

  • Even outdoors may include indoor spaces (e.g. toilets) where people may gather too close to each other
  • Indoors you must address ventilation
  • Indoor risks do not necessarily increase with higher numbers of attendees but consider the density of people and adjust number of attendees if venue small
  • Risks indoors increase with free movement (e.g. dance floor in night club, so consider seated vs standing choir) because then it’s more likely people come into close contact
  • Events with ‘energetic activity’ present a higher risk – this would include vocal groups and singing though you will see they are not specifically referenced here:
  • Events involving energetic activity: observations from the Events Research Programme indicate that unstructured and energetic activity with a high crowd density may lead to higher airborne transmission risks. This could include activities such as actively chanting and celebrating while attending sporting events, singing along at gigs and concerts, or dancing/singing at a nightclub.’

Risks to your organisation: 

  • What are the risks to your group and its objectives if you do run in-person events or not?
    • will the group fold?
    • is it perfectly happy online and thriving?
    • Is it able to fulfil its mission with or without in-person events?
  • Can you afford and/or manage the mitigations?
    • Additional costs (one-off/ongoing); one-off costs may include CO2 monitors, HEPA filter/air purifier, a pocket amp for your MD so they don’t have to shout; ongoing costs could be disinfectant, hand sanitiser, rubbish bags etc., but most crucially possibly a larger venue
    • (Additional) volunteers needed; most groups don’t find it easy to find enough people to help out anyway, so if your risk assessment plans for 4 volunteers – is that realistic?
    • Can you charge more for tickets? Many people will understand the extra costs and risks associated with putting on events and a small increase to acknowledge this is not unreasonable. Or you could ask for a donation on top of the ticket prices instead.
    • Can you live stream the event, or record it and make it available online as a premiere? This could add a new income stream from an online audience.
  • Having to cancel a performance at short notice:
    • Making Music event cancellation insurance doesn’t cover events cancelled due to Covid-19, or indeed any communicable disease (this is an industry wide exclusion, and it will be very hard to get affordable cover that does include Covid-19). But there are things you can do to mitigate risks:
      • Agree in advance with venues and performers how this will be managed.
      • Ticketholders: postponing / transferring to a later date will probably be fine for most. But if people want a refund, you should issue one.

Section five: Final thoughts and templates 

"The highest risks of transmission occur when multiple factors are combined. For example, an indoor event with a large number of people mixing in close proximity for a prolonged period of time is likely to present a higher risk than fewer people outside for a shorter period. Transmission can also occur at pre- and post-event activities, such as at restaurants and bars, or on public transport." (from the Phase 1 findings of the Events Research Programme).

This means that the more mitigations you are able to put in place, the more you will reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 at an in-person event.

We are all clear that we are not rid of Covid-19; but we are equally increasingly clear that we need to learn to live with it. So understanding about the highest risks for transmission and what measures we can take to reduce those risks will be useful not just for the next few months, but potentially for the next year, or more. It’s worth the effort of engaging with this topic as best you can, therefore!

Risk assessment scoring

Many of you will be aware, perhaps from your ‘day job’, that usually risk assessments score risks before and after proposed mitigations, by multiplying a number (usually between 1 and 5) for the likelihood of something happening with a number (also between 1 and 5) given to the severity if that event should happen.

We don’t offer you any scores or numbers in our risk assessment template because each group’s situation will be unique and also because the evidence base for the risks and the best mitigations continues to change.

But as an example without mitigations the likelihood of someone spreading Covid-19 at an event might be as high as 5 and the severity of the consequence could be that 20 audience members catch Covid-19 and several die, another 5. This would give a combined score of 25 – something that definitely is high risk and needs mitigations.

After implementing mitigations, you might consider the likelihood of someone spreading now reduced to perhaps 2 and therefore the severity of the consequence also to 2, as only a fraction of people, if any, would catch it from the infectious person. The new combined score of 4 could then be considered an acceptable remaining risk to the group – or not: these numbers will depend a lot on your group’s situation and also on your committee’s and members’ ‘risk thermostat’ which will determine what is found to be an acceptable level of risk. Remember it can never be zero.

Templates: 

Making Music risk assessment template (example) 

Making Music risk assessment template (blank) 

 

Note: all documents are Excel spreadsheets


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.