Brass Bands England (BBE) has had a number of enquiries from member organisations regarding the possibility of restarting activity in the wake of recent changes to the Government guidelines. Following the Prime Minister's statement on Sunday 10 May and the subsequent published guidance ‘Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’, BBE would like to reiterate that there is no current guidance that suggests that banding activity should restart.
On Wednesday 13 May, new guidance came into force relating to workers, schools, travel, face coverings and public spaces. Unfortunately, none of the updated information makes restarting banding activity possible for the foreseeable future. In addition, the Government is looking to impose higher fines in relation to non-compliance.
The UK Government has set out the potential points of Monday 1 June and and Saturday 4 July for changes to be made to the current restrictions relating to schools, non-essential retail and social contact. However, these will be subject to up-to-date assessment of risk posed by the virus, so there is no guarantee that changes will be made on these dates. Maintaining social distancing is also highly likely to be key in any situation.
At the point where band rehearsals do become viable, please be aware that it may not be possible to rehearse in your normal bandrooms to ensure the safety of those involved, and it may well be a considerable time before ‘normal’ rehearsals can resume. Current thinking on safe social distancing for brass and other musical groups ranges between 2 and 5m per person, so for a full-sized brass band to rehearse together even at that point could potentially require a space of 35 x 40m.
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 when brass banding activity does restart it can be done in a way to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.