Brass Bands England has received clarification today (26 March) from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to explain what brass band activity will be possible from next Monday.
When can brass bands rehearse?
From Monday 29 March, non-professional activity will be permitted in groups of up to six or a maximum of two households and will only be permitted outdoors, as per the previous ‘rule of six’ regulations. A group comprising up to two households, or if an exemption applies (e.g. those within the same support bubble), may include more than six people. If playing in these settings, social distancing must still be maintained, including maintaining a 2m spacing between participants.
At this stage there is no provision to allow multiple groups of six to engage in activity in the same location, as was the case in some previous tiers. The DCMS has, however, confirmed that this is being kept under review for future steps in the ‘roadmap’. This additional relaxation from the most recent guidelines is intended to enable band members to partake in some activity over the Easter weekend, but still ensuring that only small groups are gathering. Indoor non-professional performing arts activity is not currently permitted.
Before undertaking non-professional performing arts activity, you should consider the case for proceeding (or not) based on any restrictions in your area, the risk involved in the activity and location, and the number and health of participants, particularly if vulnerable individuals are involved.
BBE has previously published guidance and advice that covers rehearsals in groups of six, which is available on our Covid-19 brass bands advice page. Activity should be operated under the provisions laid out in Risk Assessment No.1. This guidance will be updated shortly.
When can youth bands rehearse?
The Department for Education has also published guidance for youth groups in out-of-school settings. This guidance states that, from 29 March 2021, activity can be provided as outdoor provision to all children, without restrictions on the purpose for which they may attend. Parents should be encouraged to limit the number of out-of-school settings children are sent to, preferably to one.
In these outdoor groups there is no limit on the number of attendees. Bands should try to ensure that children are grouped with those from their same school day bubble and, where this is not possible, ensure that they are grouped with other children from their school or with any siblings from the same household. Parents and carers should not be allowed into the settings unless it is essential but up-to-date contact details should be sort for all parents and carers.
When can brass bands perform?
Live performances should not take place at this time. The intention is that these will be permitted from Step 3 of the roadmap (no earlier than 17 May). This is subject to review and further guidance will be provided in advance of Step 3.
Guidance for large outdoor rehearsals for bands and youth bands
BBE has published guidance for larger outdoor rehearsals on the Covid-19 brass bands advice page. Bands should use Risk Assesment 3, although there are some different requirements for youth settings as shown below.
The key measures that every youth band should have in place are:
Face masks should be worn by all children in Year 7 or above;
Preventing those self-isolating from attending;
Encouraging staff and children to clean their hands thoroughly and often - soap or hand sanitiser should be readily available;
Ensuring good respiratory hygiene for everyone by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach;
Cleaning frequently touched surfaces more than usual;
Increased cleaning of toilets and washrooms;
Using social distancing to reduce contact/mixing between groups of children;
Keeping children in the same bubbles they are in during the school day where possible, or otherwise in small, consistent groups;
Keeping occupied spaces well ventilated.
Promoting and engaging with the NHS Test and Trace process.
Managing and reporting confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Containing any outbreak by following local health protection team advice.
Full guidance for out-of-school settings can be found on the Government's Guidance for Parents and Carers page.
When can full band rehearsals resume?
BBE has previously published guidance for where bands fit into the Government’s roadmap for removing restrictions, which can be found in our recent article outlining implications for banding as Covid-19 restrictions diminish.
As yet this guidance does not override anything in the existing rpadmap, although further updates are expected in due course. This means that full indoor band rehearsals are not expected before 12 April for youth bands and 17 May for those involving adults, both with social distancing in place. Social distancing restrictions are not expected to be lifted until 21 June at the earliest.
The timings outlined above are indicative, and the Government will be led by data, rather than fixed dates. Before taking each step, the Government will review the latest data and will only ease restrictions further if it is safe to do so. The indicative, ‘no earlier than’ dates are all contingent on the data and subject to change.
BBE will continue to update its Covid-19 guidance for brass bands as regulations on resuming activities are updated, including example risk assessments. We thank NewMoon Insurance Services for their sponsorship of the BBE Covid advice through support of the Brass Band Emergency Fund. Anyone wishing to support the Fund can do so on the Save Our Brass Bands Emergency Fund Crowdfunder page. Bands wishing to apply for support from the fund should contact BBE at email@example.com.
The Government’s performing arts guidance can be found on the government website.