Latest Covid-19 Guidance from Brass Bands England
Now that most activities have resumed after the Covid-19 pandemic, we acknowledge that our members will still have questions about how to run activities, identify risks, and understand their roles and responsibilities when running events. We have continued to work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to bring the latest guidance and provide resources to help BBE members to decide how to run activities safely.
The Government has now moved away from deploying regulations for Covid-19 but has added public health measures and guidance. This has been made possible primarily due to the rollout of vaccines and other pharmaceutical treatments, which significantly lowers the risk of activities that involve contact with others, however, there are still things to consider in relation to brass band activities.
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. We explain more on this below.
Key Changes to requirements in recent updates
Those who test positive are still recommended to self-isolate. They should take lateral flow tests on days five and six, and if both are negative, and they do not have an abnormal temperature, they can return to their normal routine.
The Government has now removed the advice for venues to use Covid-19 status certification using the NHS app, although the app will still function for other purposes.
Due to advances in vaccination, the Government advises that the majority of people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable should now follow the same general guidance as everyone else. Those still affected are advised to consider the following mitigations to reduce the risk of catching or passing on Covid-19:
- Keep vaccinations up-to-date.
- Ensure suitable ventilation if meeting indoors, or meet outside (please see advice below on ventilation).
- Wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially when coming into contact with people you do not usually meet.
- Stay at home if you are unwell.
- Take a test if you have Covid-19 symptoms. Stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you test positive.
- Wash your hands and follow advice to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’.
Advice for bands
The Government has moved the onus onto each individual band to assess the risks of its activities and put measures in place to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of members while they take part.
To support this, the Government has produced a new key guidance document Reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, in the workplace, which covers the activity of brass bands and makes specific mention of the voluntary sector. It is important to understand that this guidance is designed to support the continuing legal obligations relating to the 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 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 below along with the Covid-19 advice sessions slides. While there have been some changes since our last session, the principles of risk assessments along health and safety lines remain.
BBE has previously published a risk assessment, available here, which bands may choose to use as a basis for their own risk assessment. This is more extensive than might now be expected for most activities. We don’t expect bands to use all measures but to demonstrate the range of measures that could be considered with those appropriate for your chosen activity.
The Working Safely Guidance details several priority actions to take to protect your participants, which are:
- Encourage and enable vaccination: As the most effective means of preventing serious illness from Covid-19, flu and other diseases, you should consider how you can support your members who wish to be vaccinated. This may be as simple as encouraging members not yet vaccinated to consider taking it up by sharing information about the vaccine through trusted sources of information.
- Ensure suitable ventilation: Bringing in fresh air to occupied spaces can help to reduce the concentration of respiratory particles, lowering the risk of airborne transmission of respiratory viruses. Crowded and/or poorly ventilated spaces greatly increase the risk of transmission. There is more information on increasing the ventilation in your band room below.
- Keep spaces clean: This reduces contact transmission. Special attention should be applied to high contact areas.
- Some are still at greater risk of serious illness from Covid-19 i.e. those with weakened immune systems. You must consider these people’s needs and make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 where necessary.
- Complete a health and safety risk assessment: While the legal requirement to consider Covid-19 has been removed, it must be considered where there is a specific risk such as when participants are in close proximity or there is poor ventilation. This should consider the points raised in the full guidance. BBE has issued an example of this that bands can modify for their own activities and help members understand the ongoing risks associated with that activity.
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.
Ventilation for bandrooms
The government has published advice on ventilation of indoor spaces to reduce the spread of all respiratory infections which includes Covid-19.
Ventilation remains one of the most effective ways of limiting the risk of infection during your activities with evidence suggesting that proper ventilation reduces transmission by up to 70%.
The Government has produced the guidance Ventilation to reduce the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19 which covers non-domestic settings and the Health and Safety Executive have a series of resources to use to help find the right ventilations solution for the long term. This includes:
- Monitoring Using CO2 monitors to identify poor ventilation and take action anywhere that CO2 levels reach 1,500ppm which indicates poor ventilation.
- Assess the risk of poor ventilation.
- If suitable, open doors, windows and vents.
- If ventilation is insufficient, seek advice from heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers. Consider installing mechanical ventilation with heat recovery to ensure ventilation can be maintained in the colder months and to help reduce your carbon footprint from lost heat.
- While not a substitute for good ventilation, air cleaning units with HEPA filters or UV technology could be a useful alternative for reducing airborne transmission of viruses.
- Where ventilation cannot be increased, consider limiting certain activities such as energetic activity, such as exercising, or when they are shouting, singing or talking loudly or including ventilation breaks between users.
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.
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 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 a short gap between groups would be preferable. Spaces should be sufficiently ventilated and enhanced cleaning of the space should take place.
If a member gets COVID-19, do we all need to quarantine and for how long?
Those who test positive are still recommended to self-isolate and can take lateral flow tests on days 5 and 6. If both are negative, and they do not have an abnormal temperature, they can return to their normal routine.
Does the band have to stop rehearsing until that member receives a negative test result?
No, but do consider the risk to your members of needing to isolate. A missed rehearsal might make a fire break and stop transmission within the band on a wider scale. 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 judgment about whether it is safe for them to attend, but there is no specific additional guidance for older 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 safe, 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.
Research and Guidance
Where can I find a link to the latest DCMS Guidance?
As always, if you have questions on restarting activities then please contact us on 01226 771015 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our web resources might be able to help you sooner than contacting us directly. Our web resources might be able to help you sooner than contacting us directly.
We thank NewMoon Insurance Services for their sponsorship of the BBE Covid advice through support of the Brass Band Projects fund. Bands wishing to apply for support from the fund should visit our Project Fund page.