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Issue 6077

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Bands given green light for carol playing in England

Tuesday 1 December, 2020

Brass bands in England will be able to take part in carol playing activities during the festive period once the country’s latest lockdown comes to an end – but must follow strict measures when doing so.

The lockdown is due to conclude on December 2, after which England will move to a tiered system of restrictions, but the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has now provided clarity on non-professional music making.

While observing the relevant social distancing requirements, it will be possible to rehearse in all tiers although there are additional requirements in tiers two and three, which must be observed.

Following communication with the DCMS, Brass Bands England has confirmed that the guidance on carol singing applies to singing and other groups related to that activity. It should take place under the following conditions:
 
●      Limit the number of people involved as far as possible.
●      Amateurs can only perform outdoors or indoors if that venue is allowed by the rules for that tier.
●      Maintain two metre social distancing (unless performing professionally or as part of supervised activity for under 18s. Bands should maintain social distancing between groups or households at all times.
●      Consider the case for performing (or not) given the wider health context of an area with particular regard if vulnerable individuals are involved.
●      Following the performing arts guidance, subject to local gathering limits. This means that, in tier one groups of up to six or in tiers two and three one household, must not interact, ‘mingle’ or otherwise at any time, including breaks, with anyone from another group. Direction can continue to take place during the activity between a conductor and a group, as long as physical interaction is avoided. Bands can use the risk assessment one (small group outdoors) or three (large groups outdoors) provided by BBE as a starting point for their risk assessment. These have been designed to maintain distances between all participants during the activity, which makes them suitable for use in all tiers.

In addition, BBE advises anyone collecting money not to handle the collection for 72 hours after and to use gloves when doing so to avoid the risk of transmission. It also recommends taking steps to show the public that safety is taken seriously by demonstrating measures taken such as use of bell covers which, whilst not necessary outdoors, can have a positive impact on public perception or the use of allowing either contactless or online donations ie make a QR code poster to direct the public to donate on a #SaveOurBrassBands Crowdfunder page. BBE also recommends that bands use floor marking to help manage spacings between players and the general public.

Rehearsing can now resume in all tiers, but with significant additional requirements. There are also additional requirements in tiers two and three.

The additional requirements are:
●      A face covering must be used at all times when not playing. This includes percussion while playing and conductors (who may choose to use a face visor for visibility of their face.
●      Move outdoors where possible.
●      If indoors, ensure that rooms are ventilated by keeping windows and doors open. This may mean reminding members to arrive with suitable clothing as being cold does not remove this requirement.
●      The requirements for social distancing must be observed in each tier. This means that, in tier one groups of up to six, or in tiers two and three one household, must not interact, ‘mingle’ or otherwise at any time, including breaks, with anyone from another group. Direction can continue to take place during the activity between a conductor and a group, as long as physical interaction is avoided. Bands can use the risk assessment one (small group outdoors) or three (large groups outdoors) provided by BBE as a starting point for their risk assessment. These have been designed to maintain distances between all participants during the activity, which makes them suitable for use in all tiers.
●      Consider the case for performing (or not) given the wider health context of an area with particular regard if vulnerable individuals are involved.
●      If bands do plan to proceed, they should limit the number of performers as far as possible, which must be in line with the rest of the performing arts guidance.
●      Due to aerosol transmission it is important to limit the total number of individuals involved as much as possible.
●      Social distancing should be maintained at two metres. In particular, non-professionals should not engage in activities that may lead to social distancing being compromised.
●      Additional requirements laid out, including the use of screens, are covered within the BBE risk assessments issued previously. 

It is possible to perform in some tiers, but there are significant additional measures that need to be taken into account in this case.

For performances, the tier rules are:
●      Tier one: audiences limited to the smaller of 50 per cent venue capacity or 1,000. The rule of six applies indoors or outdoors.
●      Tier two: audiences limited to the smaller of 50 per cent venue capacity or 1,000. The rule of six applies outdoors, but only meet with one’s own household indoors.
●      Tier three: no indoor performances are allowed. The rule of six only applies in public outdoor spaces, otherwise one must only meet with their own household.
 
 
BBE will soon be publishing an additional risk assessment template for use when planning a performance, which should be used in addition to the rehearsal risk assessments previously published.

Guidance for the performing arts, which is due to be updated before the December 3 changes take place, can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts

A statement from BBE stated: “We will continue to monitor advice to support the resumption of activity when bands choose to do so, but we also want to highlight that this statement is not a blanket support for the resumption of activity and we encourage bands to make a decision in the best interest of your members, taking into account local risk and the health and safety of your members, their families and the general public.”

The BBE guidance on resuming activities is being updated after the announcement from the DCMS and will be published at the earliest opportunity. The advice is now sponsored by NewMoon Insurance Services, with all funds supporting the Brass Band Emergency fund. In the meantime, existing risk assessments for running rehearsals remain valid.