What to do if there is a Covid case reported at your rehearsals

A key focus of a Covid risk assessment is to ensure people who have Covid do not attend your rehearsals. However, an individual can pass the virus on from two days before symptoms show. So even with thorough testing, individuals can inadvertently bring the virus to a rehearsal. If this happens, it is good to have a clear plan of what you will do.

The most important part of this plan will be making sure members tell you if they do develop symptoms or test positive after a rehearsal.

The committee or group leaders needs to be clear on what the rules are for self-isolating.

For all four nations (as of 29 Nov 2021) people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive do not need to self-isolate:

  • unless they are told to by their nation’s track and trace system (e.g. by the NHS Test and Trace service).
  • if they have been double vaccinated.

Omicron variant: there are different rules if the contact was with a suspected case of the new Omicron variant. In these instances they must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status (they will be contacted by the nation’s track and trace system).

If they get any symptoms of Covid-19, they should self-isolate and get a test as soon as possible.

In England, close contact is defined on the UK Government’s website as:

  • ‘anyone who has had any of the following types of contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19:
    • face-to-face contact including being coughed on or having a face-to-face conversation within one metre
    • been within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
    • been within 2 metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact, or added up together over one day)

A person may also be a close contact if they have travelled in the same vehicle or plane as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.’

So, if there is a case at your rehearsal, it is likely that at least some of the people will have been within close contact with the person – but it is also likely that those people will not need to self-isolate.

So a case at a rehearsal does not necessarily mean you have to cancel your next rehearsal or that people won’t be able to come. But you should still have a process in place for letting members know, giving them the relevant information to make their own choice and finding out how members feel.

General rules to help

  • Ask members who develop symptoms after a rehearsal to contact you as soon as they can.
  • Ask members to use the NHS Track and Trace app (or nation equivalent) – this will make it easier for them to know what to do and for you to provide guidance.
  • Use the WellRehearsed app after every rehearsal.

When a case has been reported

1.    Establish the facts

If a member lets you know they have developed symptoms after a rehearsal it is important to establish the facts.

  • When did symptoms start? If it was more than two days after the last rehearsal, then you don’t have to do anything.
  • Have they had a test? If not, will they get one and when – ask them to let you know the result.
    • If the test is negative, you don’t have to do anything.
    • If they do test positive, they could be infectious for ten days after symptoms develop. If a rehearsal is happening during those ten days, they should not attend (even if symptoms have subsided)
  • Is it a suspected case of the new Omicron variant? 
  • Ask the person if they are happy to be identified to the rest of the group – most people will be, but they are within their rights to say no. Explain that it is useful for other members to know who has symptoms / has tested positive as the amount of contact each member had with them may inform their decisions about whether to have a test, self-isolate or attend rehearsals or not.

2.    Let the venue know

The venue should have good cleaning procedures in between each booking – but they should be told that there has been a reported case, so they can do what is required of them.

3.    Let members know

Regardless of whether the person with symptoms is happy to be identified, let the group know there has been a reported case. Give as much information as possible.

  • Who the person is (if you have permission)
  • When symptoms started
  • If there has been a positive test
  • If it a suspected case of the new Omicron variant

Update the group when you have more info, e.g. when test result comes in.

Members will be looking to the committee for some guidance and leadership on what to do.

The best thing is to refer to the relevant national guidance – but try and provide the actual guidance rather than just links

  • They do not need to self-isolate unless they are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service. If they have been double vaccinated, they will be told they do not have to self-isolate as a part of their contact with the infectious person. If they get any symptoms, they need to self-isolate, get a test as soon as possible and let the committee know.
  • You might also recommend they do lateral flow tests regularly/more frequently than usual.
  • Omicron variant: if it is suspected case of the new Omicron variant they must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status.  

Make a proposal for what to do regarding the next rehearsal: A good approach is to offer a suggested plan for the next rehearsal – and ask members to let you know if they are happy to attend under that plan or would rather miss rehearsal for a week.

As the above guidance illustrates, there is no explicit reason a rehearsal cannot go ahead. But there might be some circumstances where it is best to cancel. Some considerations are:

  • musical activities, and singing especially, do carry increased risks
  • if it is a suspected case of the Omicron variant
  • the number of cases reported after the rehearsal – just one or more than one?
  • the number of double vaccinated and booster vaccinated people at rehearsals (which you may or may not know and should not require people to tell you, but might have anonymous data about)
  • local case numbers

There are several different approaches you could take:

  • On the balance of risks, you might decide it is fine to go ahead as normal, and that simply letting everyone know and make their own decision to attend or not is enough.
  • Go ahead with the rehearsal but with some additional measures such as:
    • increased social distancing
    • face masks when singing (if you are not already doing this)
    • ask members to be extra vigilant e.g. not attending if they have symptoms, doing laterl flow tests.
  • If you think the risks are particularly high (e.g. local case numbers increasing), you might decide it is best to remove the risk and miss a rehearsal for a week.
  • Omicron variant: if the case is a suspected to be the Omicron variant it might be best to cancel your rehearsal (assuming it will be within 10 days of symptoms starting). Any close contacts will have to self-isolate for 10 days anyway, and until we know more about how quickly it can spread and how effect vaccines are, a cautious approach is sensible.

The situation may change: you might be doing all the above four days before your next rehearsal and with two days to go you could have:

  • negative results back
  • more cases / symptoms reported by people at the last rehearsal.

Both might affect the plan you made – so be clear to members that things might change and communicate with them when they do. And be clear at which point a final decision will be made.

There might be opposition: It is a polarising subject: some might think you haven’t done enough, some might think you have gone too far. The important thing to remember – and to remind members of –  is that the committee or group leaders:

  • are responsible for providing a safe environment and have a duty of care to members
  • are trying to balance these responsibilities with the desire to make music and keep the group going – no easy task
  • are giving up their time and energy to do this on everyone else’s behalf
  • are the ones who have to make these decision – and who ultimately the responsibility sits with
  • have to be happy personally that they are doing the right thing by the members and group as a whole.

4.    Use the WellRehearsed app

Report what has happened – even if you have not used the app previously, start now and keep using it after every rehearsal, whether there has been a reported case or not – only big data will show us what the level of infection rates in music groups really are.

5.    Review your procedures

Although a reported case is never a good thing, an upside is that it will help you check how your procedures are working.

If a person reported symptoms a day or two after your rehearsal and no one else did, then it could be a sign that you have effective measures in place – and is also a sign that you need to keep them up.  

If there were more cases and it seems likely that it could have spread at the rehearsal, then a review of your measures might be a good idea. This should be reasonable and proportionate: risk can never be zero – if you have strong measures in place and a case spread to just one or two people during an hour-long indoor singing rehearsal that could still be seen as a positive, in that it did not spread to far more people.

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.