England: COVID-19 advice for musicians
Please read our news story covering the Prime Minister's statement on 14 June. This page will be updated with further information for music professionals as soon as possible.
Key dates for the music sector
The UK Government has published a roadmap on easing lockdown restrictions in England, with indicative dates of what may happen when. Please note these dates are subject to reduced prevalence of the virus and other key indicators in the roadmap, and may be adjusted accordingly.
In brief, some key dates that may affect musicians' work include:
Step 1 - 8 March 2021: Schools reopen for all pupils.
Step 1 - 29 March 2021: Amateur and non-professional rehearsals can recommence outdoors under certain conditions.
9 April 2021: Free rapid flow lateral tests available to everyone without Covid-19 symptoms in England.
Step 2 - From 12 April 2021: Weddings with up to 15 guests can take place in premises which are permitted to open.
Step 3 - From 17 May 2021: Theatres and concert halls to open. Performance and large events open, subject to conditions. Up to 30 people at weddings. Amateur and non-professional music can resume indoors but with limits on numbers and other restrictions.
For areas where the new Covid-19 variant is spreading, please refer to Government guidance.
From 21 June 2021: No legal limit on number of attendees at weddings but actual numbers will be determined by a venue's risk assessment.
Step 4 - proposed date of 17 July 2021: Legal limits on contact removed, nightclubs can open.
This is not exhaustive and other planned changes may also open up opportunities for work for musicians. See below for more details on information we have so far. We will be updating this page regularly as more guidance becomes available.
Last updated: 21 June 2021
From 12 April 2021, any child can access private face-to-face tuition. We can see nothing in the regulations which expressly prohibits adult face-to-face music teaching for all adult learners.
From 17 May 2021, children's activities, such as choirs and ensembles are allowed with mitigations in place. See below for details.
Last updated: 17 June 2021
The position in relation to teaching children and adults face-to-face is described below:
Teaching adults face-to-face:
In view of the Government’s green light for Step 2 of the Roadmap taking effect on 12 April, and in the context of the wide range of activities permitted from that date, we can see no good reason why all adult face-to-face teaching should also not resume from 12 April. We have told the Government that this is our position and that we will advise our members accordingly. If Government tells us anything to the contrary, we will advise members immediately.
Teaching children face-to-face:
Government guidance for out-of-school settings was updated on 7 April 2021. This governs what happens for private music tuition.
From 12 April 2021
The Government has confirmed that all children can access out-of-school settings without any restrictions from this date. This means that private teaching can take place face-to-face either in the teacher's home or the pupil's, subject to a risk assessment and implementation of any of the usual mitigations and COVID-safe working practices.
From 17 May 2021
Children's group activities:
Indoor extra-curricular activities for children* will be able to take place in groups of any number. However, when considering appropriate group sizes, it will be important to take the following into account:
- whether the activity takes place indoors or outdoors
- current Government guidance on social distancing
- the ability of the children in attendance to maintain social distancing and practise hand hygiene
- the age of the children in attendance
- nature of your activity or provision (for example, static, classroom set-up rather than an activity that requires a range of movement)
- the size or layout of your premises, and the recommended occupancy levels of the premises
- the ability to ventilate your premises effectively with fresh air
Out-of-school settings are exempt from the requirement to limit group numbers to six for singing indoors. However, you should follow the advice under 'Minimising contact between individuals' and any other Covid-19 mitigations.
For all activities, please remember to have an up-to-date risk assessment in place and follow any other Covid-19 mitigations.
* who were under the age of 18 on 31 August 2020. Anybody over the age of 18 should follow the guidance for amateur choirs and groups below.
Performances by children:
The out-of-schools settings guidance confirms that indoor or outdoor performances can take place with an audience. Please maintain social distancing and refer to the following before proceeding:
- guidance for the performing arts
- guidance on delivering outdoor events
- guidance on organised events for local authorities
Please remember to have an up-to-date risk assessment in place and follow any other Covid-19 mitigations too.
Domestic residential visits:
Domestic residential visits or overnight stays are permitted but with children in groups of no more than 6 people or 2 households (including at least one member of staff). Please refer to the following guidance for important information where planning such visits:
- Annex B
- guidance on systems of control
- wider advice on visiting indoor and outdoor venues
Other points to note:
- Some premises are only permitted to open for certain exempt activities which include supervised activities, education or training for children.
- Children should be encouraged to attend settings close to where they live or go to school, ideally within walking or cycling distance. However, you can use settings further afield provided that you follow the COVID-19: safer travel guidance for passengers.
- The Government advise that parents and carers should not routinely be present at sessions. However, if parents do attend, they must maintain social distancing in line with current guidance.
Delta variant areas:
In areas where the Delta variant is spreading we interpret that private teaching indoors can continue with suitable mitigations, including conducting an up-to-date risk assessment.
Performances and rehearsals
From 17 May 2021, live performances both indoors and outdoors are permitted with certain restrictions.
Further down the page there are separate sections about performing at weddings and amateur music.
Last updated: 3 June 2021
Professional performers and live performances
From 17 May 2021:
Indoor and outdoor performing arts venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas and dedicated grassroots music venues can open to the public.
The legal gathering limits do not apply to people using the facility for work purposes (e.g. use by performing arts professionals for rehearsals, training, and performances for broadcast or recording purposes).
Our interpretation is that current social contact rules* apply where you rehearse, record or live stream from a private home. Please be mindful of the area available, ensuring you have sufficient space for social distancing and ventilation. The performing arts guidance has further details on appropriate Covid-19 mitigations which you should adhere to, including the need for an up-to-date risk assessment.
The Government guidance states that indoor and outdoor events (including rehearsals and performances) organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can take place.
Performance events with an audience are permitted indoors and outdoors. COVID-secure mitigations are required, and there are limits on capacity, as follows:
• Indoor events can take place for up to 1,000 people or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity (whichever is lower).
• Outdoor events can take place for up to 4,000 people or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity (whichever is lower).
• In outdoor venues with a seated capacity of over 16,000, events can take place for up to 10,000 people or 25% of the site or venue’s seated capacity (whichever is lower).
• For events with mixed seating and standing areas (such as live music events), the capacity cap will be calculated as 25% of seated capacity, irrespective of any standing capacity. All audience members admitted under this provision should be seated and should not access the venue’s standing capacity to view the event.
• Audiences should be arranged so that they can adhere to legal gathering limits (groups of up to 30 people outdoors, and up to six people or two households/bubbles indoors), and that relevant groups do not mix. Where possible, seating should allow people in the same group who do not live together to maintain social distancing.
Please follow all relevant guidance, legal requirements and related mitigations to create a Covid-secure event.
For amateur and non-professional groups, please see section below entitled 'Amateur choirs and groups.'
Schools and colleges
All schools are to reopen for all students on 8 March. Face-to-face music provision is permitted under certain circumstances in schools from 8 March. This section includes advice on testing in schools.
Last updated: 25 May 2021
The UK Government updated its guidance on 24 May 2021 for English schools. The Government has acknowledged that music provision is important for returning students. Peripatetic teachers can move between schools, but must follow the COVID-safe measures adopted by each school they attend.
Individual face-to-face music lessons can continue in schools and organisations providing out of school childcare.
Peripatetic teachers are permitted to teach face-to-face in schools from 8 March.
Performances in schools
Performances with a live audience are permitted but you should follow the latest advice under the performing arts guidance, which provides details of how to manage audiences as well as carry out performing arts safely.
If planning an outdoor performance you should also give particular consideration to the guidance on delivering outdoor events.
Live streaming or recorded performances are permitted, subject to safeguarding considerations and parental permission.
Singing and playing wind or brass instruments in schools
- is permitted in line with guidance from the DCMS for professionals and non-professionals but with certain restrictions
- should not take place in larger groups such as in choirs or ensembles or assemblies unless significant space, natural airflow, social distancing (2 metres) and mitigations are in place
- singers, wind and brass players should be positioned to avoid air from their instrument blowing into another player
- use microphones where possible
- encourage singing quietly
General safety information about teaching face-to-face in schools
- playing instruments or singing in groups should take place outdoors wherever possible
- playing indoors is possible but with appropriate social distancing and Covid-19 mitigations students should be positioned back-to-back or side-to-side whenever possible
- use microphones where possible
- avoid sharing instruments and equipment limit handling music scores or parts
- regularly disinfect shared equipment, for example, music stands, chairs
- social distancing should be maintained wherever possible
Covid-19 asymptomatic testing in schools
The Government recommends that schools and colleges should offer access to two rapid lateral flow tests every week for on-site staff. Although testing is not mandatory it is strongly encouraged. Individual schools and colleges may decide their own internal policies in conjunction with their risk assessments. Where a member is an employee or a worker at a school, they are expected to follow the school’s own policy. For self-employed contractors, it is possible to refuse to follow the school’s policy but that may risk future relations with that school.
Many schools are sending home testing kits to staff members via post. We think it is unreasonable to expect VMTs to travel to schools to collect home testing kits where other members of staff are receiving them by post. Please contact us if a school is following this procedure.
Please note that where someone has symptoms of Covid-19, they must self-isolate immediately and order a lab-based polymerase chain reaction test from the NHS.
Wearing face coverings in schools
From 17 May, face coverings will no longer be recommended for pupils in classrooms or communal areas in all schools. Face coverings will also no longer be recommended for staff in classrooms.
In all schools the Government recommends that face coverings should be worn by staff and visitors in situations outside of classrooms where social distancing is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas).
The reintroduction of face coverings for pupils, students or staff may be advised for a temporary period in response to particular localised outbreaks, including variants of concern.
Individual schools and colleges may decide their own internal policies in conjunction with their risk assessments. Where a member is an employee or a worker at a school, they are expected to follow the school’s own policy. For self-employed contractors, it is possible to refuse to follow the school’s policy but that may risk future relations with that school.
If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, it is your duty to tell any schools to avoid any misunderstanding.
Amateur choirs and groups
From 17 May 2021, amateur and non-professional activity indoors and outdoors is permitted but with limits on numbers and other restrictions.
Our interpretation is that for areas where the Delta variant is spreading, rehearsals should take place outdoors only.
Please see 'Private teaching' for details about children's group activities and performances.
Last updated: 17 June 2021
From 17 May 2021 (Step 3 of the Spring 2021 Roadmap):
All non-professional and amateur music can recommence indoors from Step 3 with certain restrictions.
The performing arts guidance confirms the following:
Indoors: activities are permitted for multiple groups of up to six people, or a group of two households/bubbles, with the exception of singing activity, as detailed below.
- Activities can take place with multiple permitted groups, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity, and the event is organised in line with the organised events guidance for local authorities
- Non-professional singing indoors should only take place in a single group of up to six people
- Activities should be organised to allow for social distancing to be maintained
Outdoors: activities are permitted in a group of up to 30 people.
- Activities can take place with multiple permitted groups, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity, and the event is organised in line with the organised events guidance for local authorities.
- Activities should be organised to allow for social distancing to be maintained
- Where singing is involved, refer to the principles of safer singing too
Please note that the performing arts guidance says that you should consider the case for proceeding (or not) based especially on the risk involved in the activity and location, and the number and health of participants, particularly if vulnerable individuals are involved.
Amateur groups may find the WellRehearsed app helpful, which has been developed by the Association of British Choral Directors (abcd) and Making Music. It is intended to generate data on music making activities in the UK, so that we can make the case for choral singing and for music activity in the community.
We understand the frustration felt by members who are keen to return to indoor choir rehearsals quickly and safely. We are working with partners to seek urgent change to this guidance. Find out more about our joint lobbying campaign, and what you can do to help.
Delta variant areas:
In areas where the new COVID-19 variant is spreading, our interpretation is that rehearsals should take place outdoors only, with relevant Covid-19 mitigations and a risk assessment. Other areas can continue to follow the latest performing arts guidance as above.
Music in worship
From 28 March 2021, certain restrictions for singing during an act of worship will be relaxed.
Last updated: 27 March 2021
Government guidance states that the following can take place from 28 March 2021:
A single small group of singers will be allowed to perform, or rehearse for performance, only where essential to an act of communal worship. This should be limited to as few singers as possible, with social distancing being maintained at all times. Communal singing should not take place.
Outdoors (in the grounds or outside space of a place of worship):
When communal worship takes place outdoors, the congregation may join in with singing, and should follow the principles set out in the performing arts guidance. This includes ensuring that congregation members follow social distancing rules. Social contact limits apply, meaning that households, support bubbles or groups of 2 must not mingle. Communal singing in other public open spaces should not take place.
Government guidance for the performing arts should be followed where professional musicians rehearse in a place of worship.
Weddings and funerals
Last updated: 21 June 2021
From 21 June 2021:
Ceremonies and receptions:
The number of attendees at weddings, civil partnerships and receptions will be determined by how many people the venue or space can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place. This will be based on the COVID-19 risk assessment of the venue or outdoor space, and the measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
A Covid-19 risk assessment is required where a ceremony or reception takes place in the garden of a private home or private land with more than 30 attendees. Ceremonies or receptions for up to 30 attendees maximum taking place inside a private dwelling are only permitted for urgent marriages where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover. There is further information about outdoor ceremonies and receptions in gardens of private homes, including the use of marquees and permitted capacity here.
Those working at the event are not included in the limits on attendees. There is no limit on the number of professional performers that can perform at a ceremony or reception, but the number should be determined by how many the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place between the performers and guests.
Amateur choirs, bands, or musicians may also perform in a group of up to six indoors. Outdoors, they may perform in multiple groups of up to 30.
Outdoor performances are always preferable but where indoor performances are planned, they should:
- be limited in size
- implement strict social distancing rules
- only take place where high rates of air flow can be maintained and should use amplification systems to create volume rather than natural voices.
All performances should follow the Government guidance on performing arts, and singers should refer to the principles for safer singing too.
Please read further important information under the section 'Singing, music and entertainment' in the guidance.
The number of attendees will be determined by the venue, based on how many people they can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place. People working are included in any limits set by the venue.
Up to six amateur singers can perform indoors.
Any number of professional singers can perform indoors but the numbers should be limited and social distancing must be maintained at all times.
Communal singing should not take place inside but if the event is taking place outside, the congregation may join in with singing.
Please refer to and follow relevant advice in the places of worship guidance, performing arts guidance and principles for safer singing.
Commemorative eventsincluding wakes can take place with up to 30 attendees outdoors (including in private gardens) or indoors in a COVID-secure venue. Anyone working is not included in the maximum number permitted.
From 21 June 2021 at the earliest:
The Government proposes that there will be no limits from this point onwards, subject to the outcomes of the Government’s Events Research Programme which it will run during spring 2021. This will include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes. The pilots will start in April.
The Government will bring the findings from across different sectors and different settings to determine a consistent approach to lifting restrictions on these events, including life events such as weddings/civil partnerships and funerals. Depending on the outcome of this work, the Government hopes to be able to lift restrictions on these events and sectors as part of Step 4.
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