Latest update 12th April 2021

April Updates:

Local Authority Guidance including non-professional performing arts and music groups (England). In particular please note:

"Singing

The performing arts guidance sets out how professional singing can take place in both outdoor and indoor settings. While indoor and outdoor venues cannot reopen until Step 3, professional rehearsals and streaming can still take place in theatres and concert halls. Non-professional activity, such as rehearsals, can take place outdoors from 29 March in line with social mixing limits however audiences are not permitted in any settings until Step 3. Non-professional activity indoors cannot resume until Step 3.

The performing arts guidance advises that organisers should take proactive steps to encourage audiences to support the safety of the event and discourage activities which can create aerosol such as shouting, chanting and singing along. Coronavirus spreads from person to person through small droplets, aerosols and through direct contact. Singing, shouting and physical activity increases the risk of transmission through small droplets and aerosols. If singing does take place, steps to reduce the risk of transmission should be taken, including limiting the number of people participating as far as possible. The cumulative effect of aerosol transmission means the more people involved, the higher the risk of transmission. Further advice about how groups can implement further mitigations such as reducing the length of activity can be found in the performing arts guidance. Performances in places of worship should also refer to this guidance."

March Updates:

    In England

    From 29 March: DCMS guidance specifically mention 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."

    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 earliest)

    Community centres and other public buildings can open but the Government guidance on Reopening businesses and venues says:

    “indoor events that bring people together - even if they do not mix with other households - must not run until Step 3.”

    Indoor rehearsals will not be possible at step two.

    The same guidance for outdoor activity:

    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.

    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.
    • Having measures in place to mitigate risk.
    • 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 all COVID secure requirements 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.

    In Scotland

    Under current national lockdown restrictions groups cannot meet to rehearse in person.

    Online rehearsals are of course possible.

    The First Minister announced on 23 February that Scotland would remain under ‘stay at home restrictions’ until at least 5 April (indicative) and hopefully return to the variable levels system of restrictions on the 26 April (indicative).

    The Scottish Government’s timetable for easing coronavirus restrictions published on 16 March gave 17 May as the indicative date for non-professional performance arts to resume outdoors.

    We will make any revisions when the Scottish Government publishes the revised levels framework.

    In Wales

    Wales is moving to a four-tier system. Tier one has the least restrictions and tier four the most. 

    The Welsh government have released a detailed document outlining the strategic tier plan and what is and isn’t possible at each level. They have also released a useful shorter document explaining each tier.

    All of Wales is in tier four. The guidance below covers tier four restrictions.

    Tier 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 tier four restrictions we do not think it includes music group activity.

    Groups cannot meet to rehearse. 

    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 
    • 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

    In Northern Ireland

    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.

    With thanks to Making Music for guidance and information.

    26th March

    Updated Gov.uk guidance re amateur performers from 27 March

    16 March
    Schools and colleges return, plus practical Higher Education courses
    Stay at home guidance remains
    No in person rehearsals

    February Updates:

    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 await detailed information on the performing arts, but the key points so far are:

    8 March
    Schools and colleges return, plus practical Higher Education courses
    Stay at home guidance remains
    No in person rehearsals

    29 March
    Rule of 6 or two households outdoors only, this could include rehearsals
    Travel should be minimised

    12 April
    Events pilots begin
    Outdoor attractions open including drive-in events
    Outdoor hospitality open
    Community centres can open

    17 May
    Indoor entertainment reopens, plus remaining outdoor entertainment
    Amateur activity can recommence (ABCD/Making Music seeking clarification on whether outdoor rehearsals could take place earlier)
    Rule of 6 or two households indoors, 30 people outdoors
    Domestic overnight stays
    Large events with capacity limits - 50% or 1000, whichever is fewer

    21 June
    All measures lifted – which means groups could be back to full activities

    We are waiting clarification from DCMS on how rehearsals will fit into each stage of the roadmap, what it will mean in a practice, and what limit on numbers there will be. Recreational sporting activities are specially mentioned in the roadmap – Making Music/ABCD are asking if leisure time music activities will have parity with sporting ones. 

    January Updates:

    December Updates:

    November Updates:

    • Government Guidelines: Performing Arts Update 27 November 2020
    • COVID-19: suggested principles of safer singing. GOV.UK updated 20 November 2020.
    • England enters a national Tier 4 lockdown on Thursday 5 November lasting until 2 December.

      DCMS have confirmed that no amateur music activity can take place during this time – so groups will not be able to meet and rehearse under any circumstances. 

      In the meantime, you can:

      • Meet online
      • Plan for how to return safely to in person rehearsals when you are able to do so. 

      We will keep this page updated as we find out more about what will happen after 2 December.  

    October Updates:

    September Updates:

    August Updates:

    July Updates:

    June and Earlier Updates:

    Please note, it is still important for individual groups to make their own risk assessment based on official government guidance.

    Remember BABS are here to help! Members of the Board are available to help you by visiting your zoom rehearsals or in any other way so please do contact us if we can be of assistance. 

    In order to assist our members in trying online video conferencing, we have prepared a pack, which includes guidance on running meetings, running rehearsals, and other things to consider. We have updated this document as of January 2021. Please click here to download the document - we hope it is of use to some of you!
     
    We are all looking forward to the day where we can sing together on the risers again.

    For more information on the current situation and regular updates please see the below links:

    Further information and support on what we can do at this time is constantly coming in. Click on the links below to get some more ideas on what other choirs are doing to stay connected, further information and research.