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Covid Guidance update for English bands - effective from 2 December

 

Brass Bands England (BBE) has announced the latest implications for brass bands in relation to guidance issued by the Government over the ending of the most recent nationwide lockdown.

 

Clarification has been received from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) detailing how the revised tier system will affect brass band activity, particularly over the Christmas period. The BBE team is running a Q&A Zoom session at 6.00pm on 1 December to answer questions relating to band activity. To register please visit  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZctcO-qrDMqHtZgz9HMLXQsSPj6l-ftJHLm

 

The DCMS has confirmed that, from 2 December, amateur performing arts activity can resume under the stricter requirements of the tier system. This does mean that, while observing the relevant social distancing requirements, it is possible to rehearse in all tiers although there are additional requirements in tiers 2&3, which must be observed. 

 

Carolling

BBE has been informed that the guidance layed out to allow carol singing applies to ‘Singing and other groups’ related to that activity. This then makes it clear that caroling can take place with 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 2m social distancing (unless performing professionally or as part of supervised activity for under 18s). You should maintain social distancing between groups or households at all times.

  • Consider the case for performing (or not) given the wider health context of your area with particular regard if vulnerable individuals are involved.

  • Following the performing arts guidance, subject to local gathering limits. This means that, in tier 1 groups of up to 6, or in tiers 2&3 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 1 (small group outdoors) or 3 (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. We also recommend 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 i.e. make a QR code poster to direct the public to donate on your #SaveOurBrassBands Crowdfunder page. We also recommend that you use floor marking to help manage spacings between players and also the general public. 

 

Rehearsals

Rehearsing can now resume in all tiers, but with significant additional requirements. There are also additional requirements in tiers 2&3. BBE has designed the published risk assessments to meet the requirements in all tiers and recommends that these are followed to maintain a consistent approach, especially when members may live in different tiers. Those who previously used a BBE risk assessment will have these additional requirements in place. 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 you need to remind 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 1 groups of up to 6, or in tiers 2 and 3 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 1 (small group outdoors) or 3 (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 your area with particular regard if vulnerable individuals are involved.

  • If you do plan to proceed, you 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 2m. 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.  

 

Other Performances 

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

 

For performances, the tier rules are:-

  • Tier 1 - audiences limited to the smaller of 50% venue capacity or 1,000. The rule of 6 applies indoors or outdoors.

  • Tier 2 - audiences limited to the smaller of 50% venue capacity or 1,000. The rule of 6 applies outdoors, but only meet with your household indoors.

  • Tier 3 - No indoor performances are allowed. The rule of 6 only applies in public outdoor spaces, otherwise you must only meet with your own household.

 

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

 

BBE 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 currently being updated after the announcement from the DCMS and will be published at the earliest opportunity. We would also like to thank NewMoon Insurance Services, which are now kindly sponsoring the BBE Covid advice with all funds supporting the Brass Band Emergency fund. Anyone wishing to support the fund can do so here https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-our-brass-bands-emergency-fund. In the meantime, existing risk assessments for running rehearsals do remain valid.

 

If anyone has questions on restarting or continuing banding activities, then please contact BBE on 01226 771015 or info@bbe.org.uk. We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls so please be assured we will get back to you but it may take us some time. Our web resources might be able to help you sooner.