BBE statement on the COVID-19 pandemic | Brass Bands England

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BBE statement on the COVID-19 pandemic

Update 16/03/20 17:30

The Government has tonight updated its guidance to avoid all non-essential contact. Brass bands are non-essential. BBE now recommends to our members and the wider brass band community that all in person brass band activity is stopped for the foreseeable future. This includes rehearsals, concerts, contests, committee meetings, other group activity and individual lessons. 

For more information, please phone 01226 771015 ext 203. We will be running extended opening hours at evenings and weekends to support bands at this time.

Update 14/03/20 23:59

Today we have received via a medical professional the following update from a senior doctor at Public Health England, a body initially consulted by Brass Bands England over the Coronavirus:

  1. Whilst the Government is leaving decisions over the Coronavirus to individuals, there is a responsibility and liability on organisers.
  2. Brass bands are recognised as a high risk of cross contamination, noting the specific actions taken in other countries.
  3. Torbay has a cluster outbreak.
  4. The events at Torquay and Durham will each bring together more than 1,000 people from multiple locations in a confined space for a high-risk event.
  5. This could be gross negligence if this proceeds and avoidable harm is caused to individuals.

They were unaware that the contest was going ahead and are very frustrated as this was against Public Health England’s advice. It was pointed out that this meant that the organisers were personally liable when proceeding with the contest against advice.
As the legislation is not yet in place to prevent large public gatherings Public Health England were unable to act immediately to cancel the contest.
A record has been made of the event on the national database to make it easier, quicker and ultimately safer if any of the people attending today do develop corona in the next 14 days. Anyone attending the regional contests who is subsequently unwell should report attendance at the events to NHS 111 to be referred to Public Health England for tracing.

For the avoidance of doubt, the liability for proceeding  for this weekend’s regional events resides with the WEBBA and NoE committees respectively, both collectively and individually as organisers of each individual event, and Kapitol Promotions Ltd. and its directors as the event promoter and owner of the the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, that these events form part of. The organisers have a ‘duty of care’ and ‘duty to provide a safe environment’ to its participants and failure to prevent harm or death through the actions of the organising committee knowingly against advice from BBE and Public Health England could represent ‘gross negligence’.

It is strongly advised the organisers take legal advice about potential liability.

BBE would also like to offer our support to the organisers of the London and Southern Counties regional contest for making the very difficult decision to cancel the contest next weekend (21-22 March) and highlight that they made this decision in advance of advice from BBE being published. 

Updated advice for Bands 
Whilst we have no role in the running of the regional contests, we do have many member bands competing for which we have a duty to provide advice and guidance, many of which have contacted us directly for these. We recommend, on the specific advice of Public Health England, that our member bands do not take part in band contests for the foreseeable future.
With the above statement in mind bands should consider the duty of care and requirement to provide a safe environment for their members. It is imperative that no pressure to attend events is placed on any member. We have received many reports to the effect of players feeling forced to attend ‘not to let down their band’ over the past 72 hours. Continued attendance in light of this advice again could be deemed ‘gross negligence’ through failure to prevent harm or death through the
actions of the organisation. We recommend that any band taking part in the ongoing areas contests take legal advice about potential liability.

Original Article

During the course of the last 48 hours, Brass Bands England (BBE) has received calls from across the banding world about events carrying on in the UK in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. In the absence of information from other sources, we have produced the advice below, which we recommend all our members follow. This is a fast-moving situation and the risks of transmission are changing rapidly. This advice supersedes any previously given by us and this page will be updated when appropriate.

In light of the increased risk of viral transmission as a result of fluids resulting from playing a brass instrument, we recommend the postponement of all large events in which people from multiple areas and of all ages come together. We realise that this is contrary to advice given by the UK Government, but we believe some of the elements of playing brass have some very specific risks of increased transmission, such as emptying water and the total time spent inside venues by audiences over the course of a contest. We realise this will be distressing and will have far-reaching consequences, but we are here to help our members in any way we can and feel it is important to recognise that these measures are ultimately about preserving lives. 

We encourage all event organisers to ensure they can genuinely answer the question, ‘can you guarantee public health at your event?’ The consequences are potentially very serious, so we would encourage all participants to support the decisions of event organisers who either postpone or cancel events, including with financial support, as such decisions could have serious impact on their future viability. There is also a significant risk of banding appearing ‘out of touch’ with the general population if large events carry on whilst many others are being cancelled.

To answer other questions we have received recently:

Is it ok to rehearse? 
At the moment we don’t think there is an impending need to stop rehearsing, but we do recommend you examine your hygiene and ensure instruments are cleaned in mild antibacterial solutions. You should not share instruments or mouthpieces and water should be blown into a towel, which should be kept by the individual and washed after each use. We also recommend an antibacterial clean of the floor space used for a band rehearsals, increase ventilation to the room as much as is practically possible and make as much space between players as possible. This is not specific advice to brass bands, but it takes the general advice and applies it to our activities. In addition, anyone concerned that they or anyone close to them could be vulnerable should self-isolate.

Should we shut our band/youth band down?
Our current advice is no, but if there is a point where other public gatherings, schools and buildings are closed then you should cease your banding activities too.

Should we handle other instruments? I.e. helping a beginner
We recommend you follow the good hygiene practices about hand washing, particularly if handling another person's instrument. We don’t recommend you blow into another instrument.

Should we perform in an old people's home? 
No. We think that any performances into spaces predominantly used but vulnerable groups (ages over 70 and people with underlying medical conditions) is a potentially high-risk activity and you should seriously consider postponing your performance or doing so via a video link. 

Finally, we know how much we all care about banding, but please remember it is a hobby and make a special effort to care for each other in this difficult time. Don’t pressurise someone who has taken a decision not to attend an event or rehearsal into doing otherwise. They may be caring for vulnerable people at home rather than being worried about their own wellbeing. We want you all to stay safe and ensure we can return to banding as healthy as possible and as soon as is safe to do so.