Update: BBE Statement on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Trustees and staff at Brass Bands England would like to express our condolences to everyone affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Banding, like every other part of life, has been deeply impacted, but we have also lost valued members of our community and our thoughts are especially with the families and friends of all the bandspeople lost and those who have had their lives badly affected in the past few months.

As we make the most tentative of starts towards resuming activities, please remember there are still considerable risks. Bands will need to be active in reducing these by modifying activities to look after members who may be particularly vulnerable. 

We hope that your bands are still intact but, for those that may be struggling we recently launched a fund to support organisations with specific problems relating to finance. If you require assistance then please contact info@bbe.org.uk to find out how to apply to the Brass Band Emergency Fund.

Advice on new regulations from 1 June 2020

In response to a growing number of enquiries over the possibility of restarting banding activity in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Brass Bands England (BBE) has updated its advice to member organisations to reflect current guidelines.

In England, from Monday 1 June, a maximum of six people, possibly from different households, shall be permitted to meet in private outside spaces. The direction remains that social distancing should be maintained and that people should only go inside when it is necessary to use the toilet, which should be cleaned before and after use.

BBE has received additional advice from Public Health England's Incident Co-ordination Centre in relation to the specific risks of brass band rehearsal activities. These risks cover the potential for brass instruments to promote dispersal of the virus, deep breathing and exhalation increasing the risk of catching the virus, water keys and the sharing of equipment such as music stands. This list is not exhaustive but is based on a collective study of the available research of which there are mixed conclusions on the risks.   

It is important to note that there can be no resumption of conventional brass band activity at the present time. It may, however, be possible for small groups to meet in a private outdoor space with six or fewer people. Public Health England has approved the following advice to ensure playing can be managed safely:

  • Increase social distancing to 3m in all directions while playing and aim instruments away from other players where possible
  • Individuals should each handle only their own music stand and music, and take all equipment home after each meeting
  • Bring a towel or similar to empty water keys onto. This should only be handled by the individual, removed by them and cleaned or disposed of after each use
  • Instruments should be cleaned after each use
  • Extra cleaning of mouthpieces should be observed
  • There should be no sharing of instruments or accessories i.e. mutes or valve oil
  • After rehearsals the area should be thoroughly cleaned before being used by anyone else

At the point when larger groups or the use of indoor spaces are allowed, these additional points will be applicable:

  • Screens should be used to separate rows where playing towards someone is unavoidable or social distancing cannot be maintained
  • Spaces should be adequately ventilated

This advice does not apply directly to anyone currently being shielded. They should continue to observe the latest specific Government advice and any direct contact with other band members should carefully reflect this. Similarly, anyone currently showing known symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been in recent contact with someone who has, or those belonging to vulnerable categories, should not yet take part in any group activity but should remain at home in isolation.

It should be noted by BBE members in Scotland and Wales that regulations there differ from those in place in England. These should be observed carefully depending on the part of the UK in which those organisations are based. 

Brass Bands England is maintaining contact with and taking advice from Arts Council England and Public Health England to continue to update the brass band sector and ensure that brass banding activity can be restarted in a way to ensure the safety of everyone involved. This will include advice on performances and events when that type of activity becomes possible. 

To discuss any queries or concerns relating to banding activity during the COVID-19 Pandemic, please call the Brass Bands England office on 01226 771015 or email info@bbe.org.uk