The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has now updated its guidance with regard to activity in England after the Government's announcement to limit social gatherings to groups of six. Brass Bands England (BBE) has been working in close contact with the DCMS over the interpretation of the latest announcement on the Covid-19 Pandemic by Prime Minister Boris Johnson a week ago.
In the updated guidance, the DCMS has made it clear that activity can continue due to the new COVID-secure guidance for the performing arts sector in groups larger than six when in organised activity, which paves the way for a continued resumption of brass band activity when social distancing is managed. It should be noted that whilst the previous guidance for performing arts was simply advisory, the changes made to introduce the rule of six now set these requirements out in law.
This update confirms that activity can continue following the previously published guidance. This means all groups over six must have a risk assessment in place to manage the required social distancing measures. Groups should refer to Risk Assessments 3&4 from BBE’s Covid resources page (https://www.bbe.org.uk/what-we-do/covid-19-advice-guidance-and-resources) to inform the required actions.
The DCMS has now confirmed that the following will be added to the performing arts guidance later today:
‘Non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups, can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than six at any time. If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than six (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.’
Within this guidance, while it is now clear it is possible to continue resuming activity, the following changes are now required:
Organisations must now ensure that their risk assessments and procedures reflect the need to ensure mingling does not occur during rehearsal activity. This is particularly important for arrival (including arriving late), leaving (including leaving early) and breaks.
These changes will be incorporated into the published BBE advice and resources as soon as possible.
In order to assist bands with their decision-making processes, a decision tree can be downloaded from the Brass Bands England website COVID resources page, which specific risk assessments they should carry out to ensure the safest possible experience for their members. These will be updated as soon as possible to reflect this update.
In addition, BBE has produced risk assessment templates to assist bands in taking the correct steps to both ensure safety and to remain compliant with the current Government guidelines. These can be accessed on the BBE website at www.bbe.org.uk/what-we-do/covid-19-advice-guidance-and-resources, where there is also a full explanation on the use of the risk assessments. During the pandemic BBE has committed to making COVID-19 support and resources available to all brass bands.
Please also note that local lockdown requirements take precedence over all the guidance related to performance activity.
We strongly urge bands considering any return to activity to pay close attention to the contents of these risk assessment templates and to make sure that they use the correct one for their specific activity by referring to the accompanying decision tree and advice document. Bands should remember that the COVID-19 Pandemic remains an extremely serious situation for us all and that very careful consideration should be given to the health and wellbeing of your members, their families, extended networks and to the general public in any decision-making process. Being permitted by the Government to go back to a band rehearsal should never mean that it is compulsory for anyone, but we implore those that do return to make sure that the necessary precautions they do put in place are followed carefully for the foreseeable future.
The Brass Bands England staff team will be making themselves available from 6:00-8:00pm on Thursday 17 September for a drop-in session to answer any questions about the COVID-19 guidance surrounding band activity. Anyone wishing to speak to a member of the team should register for free on this link https://www.bbe.org.uk/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=95 A Zoom link for the session will be emailed on registration.
If anyone has questions on restarting activities, then please contact BBE on 01226 771015 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.