Sign up for our latest Drop-In Zoom session, download risk assessments, and check the latest DCMS guidance for Covid-19 safety.
We have been working with the DCMS to bring you guidance and are providing resources to help you decide how and when you can resume activity safely.
It goes without saying that the decision to begin rehearsing will be different for your organisation than for others, and you will need to look carefully at your facilities and possibly follow a temporary relocation to comply with spacing. The most important thing is to maintain the health and safety of your group, so only proceed when you have a plan in place that makes that possible. It is also beholden on your band not to pressure members to return if they are not yet comfortable with the risk level that rehearsing poses. It is important to note that, although activity in certain circumstances is allowed in the guidance, it is not necessarily 100% safe, even with all measures possible in place.
Brass Bands England (BBE) has been working in conjunction with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to confirm that, from 19 July, brass bands can return to both rehearsing and performing. This is in line with Stage 4 of the planned recovery ‘roadmap’ previously announced.
Despite the relaxations in specific COVID-19 mitigations, the legal requirement for bands to follow actions to minimise risks to members remains due to the pre-pandemic health and safety legislation.
The BBE team have run a number of advice sessions on what bands need to do to meet the new requirements a recording of which is available belo along with the slide which are available here.
BBE has now published an updated risk assessment bands may choose to use as the basis on which to form their own risk assessment which is available here.
The Government has moved the onus onto each individual band to assess the risks of its activity and put measures in place to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of members whilst they take part in the activity provided.
To support this, the Government has produced a new key guidance document Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance from Step 4, which covers the activity of brass bands. It is important to understand that this guidance is designed to support the continuing legal obligations relating to health and safety of bands’ activities. The guidance contains non-statutory information that bands should take into account to ensure they can comply with these existing obligations and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The Working Safely Guidance details six priority actions to take to protect your participants, which are:
Complete a health and safety risk assessment that includes risks from COVID-19. This should consider the points raised in the full guidance. BBE will issue an example of this that bands can modify for their own activities and help members understand the ongoing risks associated with that activity.
Turn people with COVID-19 symptoms away. Participants should self-isolate if they or someone in their household has a new, persistent cough; a high temperature; or loses/experiences changes to their sense of taste or smell, even if these symptoms are mild. They must also self-isolate if they or someone in their household has had a positive COVID-19 result, or if they have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
Increase ventilation as much as possible.
Ensure that cleaning is carried out more often and that high contact areas are prioritised. You should ask participants to use hand sanitiser and clean their hands frequently, and provide them with advice to promote good hygiene.
Enable people to check in at your venue. Whilst no longer a legal requirement, allowing people to check in with the Test and Trace app or collecting contact details will help Test and Trace to reduce the spread of the virus.
Communicate and train all your participants on how you’re using and updating safety measures.
It is important that the full scope of the guidance is investigated and measures reviewed before bands make any changes to their provision. Bands can choose to use the BBE risk assessments in order to understand all the recommendations of the guidance.
BBE has discussed the requirements for bands with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which has highlighted the following as advice made by the Government:
Whilst the legal limits on the numbers, spacing and venue caps are removed, BBE recommends that bands continue to maintain spacing as far as is practical as reducing spacing will increase both the chance of spreading the virus and for members to be classed as close contacts. In addition to looking after the health it will reduce the chance that your members may have to isolate themselves after attending your rehearsals. This will also help bands to maintain activity by reducing the total numbers isolating at any one time. Whilst there is no legal requirement of spacing BBE now recommends that minimum spacing of 1m is used where additional measures are in place such as increased ventilation. Where additional mitigations are not possible it should be considered to increase spacing to 2m.
Whilst it will no longer be a legal requirement to wear a face covering, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed settings to protect themselves and others. BBE recommends that bands require members (unless medically exempt) to continue to wear masks wherever possible, including conductors and percussionists whilst playing.
Testing, contact tracing and self-isolation will remain in place as key protections against the virus, including the need to self-isolate if you are a contact of someone who tests positive. That requirement will be lifted for double-vaccinated people and under-18s on 16 August. This supports BBE’s recommendation to maintain spacing in order to minimise the number of contacts anyone contracting the virus might make.
Bands should use certification at venues and events, using the NHS COVID pass. This is not mandatory, but encouraged in large and crowded settings. The Government has also made clear that certification may become mandatory in the future.
In addition, BBE will continue to make the following recommendations:
Move activity outdoors wherever possible to ensure maximum ventilation.
If indoors, ensure that all windows and doors remain open where possible and, where available, ventilation systems are used as effectively as possible.
BBE may make additional recommendations as advice is updated over time. This will be communicated in new risk assessments which will be reviewed regularly. In the meantime, we urge all bands to continue to exercise caution as they change procedures and only make changes after consulting the BBE risk assessment and they have created their own risk assessment and ensured it is in line with the new guidance.
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 here and bands wishing to apply for support from the fund should contact BBE at email@example.com.
Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions
See below to find answers to frequently asked questions relating to Covid-19 and its impact on playing and returning to banding. This information will be updated as new guidelines are published by the DCMS.
Returning to band
Can we return to normal band activity?
It is now possible for all bands to organise rehearsals both indoors and outdoors as long as full risk assessments have been made and its mitigations instigated.
How many people can play together inside or outside?
there are now no legal limits on numbers but there may be practical limits on spaces to comply with necessary health and safety measures.
According to guidance, what is classed as a venue?
Anywhere a band meets to play. There is no specific definition, but all venues must comply with Health and safety legislation. This might include community facilities, owned bandrooms, local concert halls etc.
What difference does it make whether we own our bandroom or venue we are renting?
There is no difference.
What difference does it make whether we are a charity or business, or neither?
There is now no difference in terms of Covid guidance. This was in an early version of the DCMS guidelines and has now been clarified to include any formal organisation (i.e. has a committee or a constitution etc. including non-registered charities or community groups).
Do we need to do a risk assessment and are templates available?
Yes. All activity must have a risk assessment in place to comply with Health and Safety legislation
Can different groups play together or one after another? For example, a youth band followed by a senior band.
There is no legal reason to prevent this but it is best practice to minimise mixing as much as possible so a short gap between groups would be preferable. Spaces should be sufficiently ventilated and cleaning of the space should take place between groups rehearsing.
If a member gets COVID-19, do we all need to quarantine and for how long?
If a member should fall ill, they should seek medical advice and get tested. The workplace health and safety guidance states you should identify close contacts and seek advice from the local health team who might advise you should tell close contacts to isolate depending on the situation. This may include members of the band being asked to self-isolate at home for a period of time as a result. To minimise the risk of transmission and forming close contacts BBE recommends maintaining space of 1m where mitigations are in place and increasing spacing where measures are not possible.
Does the band have to stop rehearsing until that member receives a negative test result?
No, but the advice of the track and trace service should be followed and members of the band might have been asked to self-isolate for a period of time. You should not operate a rehearsal if you think it is dangerous to do so.
Is there special guidance for the over 70s or those ‘at risk’?
Players ‘at risk’ should make their own judgement about whether it is safe for them to attend, but there is no specific additional guidance for 70-plus members or those at risk. You must however make reasonable adjustments to your activity to allow those with protected characteristics this may include increasing spacing if you have members who are immune compromised for example.
Who has liability if a COVID-19 infection breaks out amongst the band? Is this the band trustees/committee or the owners of the venue?
The liability lies with the trustees or the chair of the band in the way it normally would for any other health and safety matter. Provided everything has been done to mitigate risk and guidelines have been followed, there should be no additional liability. The band also has a duty of care to any employees, for example, the conductor. In the case of a space that you rent, the building management is responsible for ensuring the space is COVID-secure, although this does mean you must follow their requirements you have agreed to when booking the space. You should ensure you have trustee indemnity included in your band insurance.
Do we need to take a register of attendees?
A record needs to be maintained of who has attended each rehearsal, along with contact details. This is to facilitate you to identify close contacts if required. GDPR rules should be applied to keeping data, but information can be passed on for safeguarding purposes as safeguarding is exempt from GDPR. It is a good idea to find out who is attending rehearsals in advance and, to minimise risks of contact, not to have people turn up unexpectedly. You can use the government Track and Trace app to display a QR code for your venue from this link https://www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster
Do we need to wear masks, and what protection does the conductor need?
Current guidance is that face masks should be used in all enclosed spaces although it is not a legal requirement. Players should wear masks when entering and departing, and whenever they are not actually playing. Percussion players should wear a mask throughout rehearsals. The conductor should wear a mask or visor at all times, in which case a screen is not compulsory for the conductor.
Do we need to use bell covers and screens?
Screens might be used as a mitigation measure to reduce spacing in order to rehearse safely however there is no legal requirement for screens. BBE no longer explicitly recommends the use of Bell Covers however if an organisation feels they are a suitable measure or barrier to allow the reduction of spacing safely they are still an option.
How can music and stands be handled safely?
Music should not be given out in rehearsals. Ideally, everyone should be sent electronic music and bring it on an electronic device, but failing that each member should look after their own music and bring it to the rehearsal. When handing out music care should be taken in cleaning hands and reducing the number of people touching surfaces to avoid transmission.
Do I need to ventilate the room and how?
Windows and doors should be open to bring in as much fresh air as possible. Mechanical ventilation is acceptable if it is bringing in fresh air and should be used. It is suggested that you have breaks in playing for everyone to leave the room (still distancing) to allow the air to refresh if there is not sufficient ventilation.
Can parents or spectators attend the rehearsal?
This is advisable to minimise numbers in any space however there are no limits on the number that can be present. Any provision for safeguarding should however be maintained.
How should we empty water keys?
Each player should bring a towel onto which they should empty the water from their instrument, taking it home to wash. droplets from emptying water keys only poses a droplet risk when lower distances are used between people.
Research and Guidance
Where can I find a link to the latest DCMS Guidance?
Where can I find a link to BBE’s laboratory research results?
Where can I find more guidance and templates from BBE?
As always, if you have questions on restarting activities then please contact us 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.
- Brass Band Emergency Fund is available to support bands in crisis - https://www.bbe.org.uk/brass-band-emergency-fund
- Watch some of our Development Programme Online Workshops- https://www.facebook.com/watch/551849244861772/1114881452180663/
- Our free Brass for Brass competition can help you win your band's membership each month as well as individual prizes - https://www.bbe.org.uk/what-we-do/brass-brass-free-monthly-competition
- Apply for funding - https://www.bbe.org.uk/what-we-do/access-funding
- Get BandFit! Check out our guide from the start of lockdown for some ideas you might not have got round to yet - https://www.bbe.org.uk/member/resource/bbe-guide-getting-your-band-ready-survive-the-covid-19-isolation-and-come-out