Lockdowns and restrictions across the UK

Keeping you up to date

Updated 24 February

In light of Boris Johnson's announcement about the roadmap to recovery for England, and statements from the governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, we are publishing relevant new advice for music professionals as soon as this becomes available.

Vaccinations

Please note that even if you have received a COVID-19 vaccination, you must still follow all government guidance and rules, as it may still be possible to spread the virus after a vaccination. See health guidance for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland for further information.

Quarantining after returning to the UK


You must follow all rules and guidance issued by national governments if you are returning from abroad to any UK nation.

Please be aware that the quarantine exemptions for professional performing artists and musicians were withdrawn for all four UK nations from 18 January 2021.

For more information please see government advice for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The information for Scotland and Northern Ireland will refer you back to the UK government guidance for England, which states:

'Performing arts professionals

This job no longer qualifies for an exemption as of 4am Monday 18 January 2021.'

These measures will be kept under review. We will update this information accordingly.

England

This advice refers to advice as it currently stands in lockdown. We have also published advice about England's roadmap out of lockdown.

Updated 4 February

The UK government announced a new lockdown for England, commencing 5 January 2021. No end date has been given, though the government has suggested that it will review its decision in mid-February. The measures and restrictions introduced apply across the whole country and supersede previous tier restrictions.

While the law will require that people stay at home for the most part and not meet people outside your household unless they are part of a support bubble, there are some limited circumstances in which it will be lawful to leave home and to meet others outside of your household including working in other people’s homes.

Private teaching

The UK government updated its out of school settings guidance on 8 January 2021, which includes the provision of private music tuition.

Face-to-face private music tuition and any other services in out of schools settings should only be offered to:

  • Children of critical workers, where it is reasonably necessary to support their parents or carers to work, seek work, attend a medical appointment, or undertake education or training
  • Vulnerable children and vulnerable young people (under the age of 18 on 31 August 2020). Please see UK government guidance for definitions of these terms.
  • Any child who does not fall under these categories must have lessons online.

    For any permitted face-to-face teaching, please remember to follow the usual social distancing guidelines and take mitigating precautions, including conducting a risk assessment.

    Live performances are not permitted during the lockdown period.

    Please contact us if you require further information regarding group tuition.

    Adult face-to-face teaching

    Teaching adults face-to-face does not seem to be permitted.

    The overall government message is to stay at home to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, except where exemptions have been created. The government has not created an exemption or issued any specific guidance in this instance and we must conclude that this activity is not permitted at present.

    Teaching in schools

    Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. ISM members should contact our legal team if you have any questions or concerns.

    Amateur performers including amateur choirs and orchestras

    From 5 January, non-professional activity, such as amateur choirs and orchestras, cannot take place.

    Professional performers and live performances

    From 5 January, professional performers in England are permitted to rehearse and perform in accordance with certain restrictions stated in the UK government’s updated guidance for the performing arts, summarised below:

  • Live audiences are not permitted to attend performances.
  • Performances can be recorded, broadcasted or live-streamed instead.
  • Organisers of rehearsals and permitted performances must continue to take all mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between staff, workers and participants.
  • Social distancing must be maintained wherever possible.
  • Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular professional activity, organisations should consider whether that activity needs to continue.

  • Our understanding is that meeting in private homes to rehearse, perform, record and broadcast is not permitted under current lockdown rules.

    Places of worship

    In line with the current lockdown, the UK government updated their guidance on places of worship on 11 January 2021.

    Acts of worship


    Singing or chanting should be limited to one person wherever possible.

    Exceptionally, where it is essential to the service, up to three individuals should be permitted to sing or chant but with appropriate mitigations including strict social distancing and consideration of the use of Plexi-glass screens.

    Communal singing is not permitted even where social distancing is being observed or face coverings are being used.
    Playing of wind or brass instruments, chanting and shouting should be avoided in communal worship and rehearsals.

    Funerals

    Funerals must have no more than 30 people. Anyone working is not included as part of the 30 person limit.

    Please note that the restrictions above for singing and playing wind or brass instruments for an act of worship will apply.

    Commemorative events to celebrate the life of a person who has died


    For example, scattering of ashes and stone setting ceremonies.
    There is a limit of six people permitted. Anyone working is not included as part of the six person limit.

    Please note that the restrictions above for singing and playing wind or brass instruments for an act of worship will apply.

    Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies


    Weddings or civil partnerships ceremonies must have no more than six people. Anyone working is not included as part of the six person limit.

    Please note that the restrictions above for singing and playing wind or brass instruments for an act of worship will apply.

    Using a place of worship as a rehearsal venue for professionals


    The performing arts guidance should be followed where a place of worship hosts a professional group for rehearsing.

    Broadcasting or filming an act of worship


    Broadcasting or filming an act of worship is permitted.
    Musicians or singers may participate only if they are essential to the delivery of that act of worship.

    The numbers or people involved should be kept as small as possible to minimise risks and participants should follow social distancing guidance.

    Northern Ireland

    Updated 27 January 2021

    Additional restrictions are in place until 5 March 2021 with a review taking place on 18 February 2021. The overall message is to ‘stay at home.’ This may affect current arrangements for private music lessons. Currently, these are permitted, as long as social distancing is maintained and there is no close contact.

    Live performance

    Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience. We are seeking clarity as to whether this applies to non-professional groups too.

    Where it is not possible to work from home, there is an exemption for gatherings larger than six from a maximum of two households.

    Private teaching

    Music lessons and private tutoring are permitted, as long as social distancing is maintained and there is no close contact.

    Teaching in schools

    Pre-schools, primary and secondary schools; are required to provide remote learning until the half term break in mid-February. Schools will remain open for vulnerable children and children of key workers. Special schools will remain open too.

    Each school should be able to inform music teachers if they are able to teach children who are entitled to be at school during this period.

    Places of worship

    Places of worship are permitted to open in line with relevant guidance.

    A limit of 15 applies to other activities being held in a place of worship (with the exemption of weddings and funerals - see guidance below).

    It is mandatory to wear face coverings inside the building and when entering and exiting. Face covering exemptions also apply.

    Social distancing and appropriate protective measures are of vital importance.

    Weddings and civil partnerships

    Weddings and civil partnerships ceremonies are limited to 25 people. This number includes children under 12 and the celebrant. We assume that musicians working are included in this number too. A risk assessment for over 15 people is required. Face masks must be worn by everyone other than all other than the person leading worship; or to a couple who are at a ceremony to solemnise their marriage or to form their civil partnership. Receptions or post ceremony gatherings are not permitted.

    Funerals


    Funerals are limited to 25 people. We assume that musicians working are included in this number too. Pre and post-funeral gatherings or wakes are not permitted. Existing restrictions on households apply

    Scotland

    This advice refers to current restrictions, we have also published advice on the update to the Strategic Framework for easing lockdown restrictions in Scotland.

    Updated 18 February 2021

    The Scottish government has introduced a new lockdown in mainland Scotland from 5 January 2021, with a legal requirement that people stay at home except for specified legal exceptions, including essential shopping, education, childcare or to support the vulnerable. Measures will be in place for a minimum of four weeks although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has not ruled out extensions or further restrictions.

    Please see further details about the new stay at home regulations.

    Private teaching

    Scottish government guidance for organised activities for children now states that indoor music and drama activities, including a reference to private tuition, are not permitted under the new rules. Online teaching is permitted.

    Teaching in schools

    The Scottish government have announced that the majority of primary and secondary school pupils will continue with remote learning until at least mid-March while children in early learning and childcare (ELC) and primaries 1 to 3 will return full-time to classrooms from Monday 22 February.

    Very limited numbers of S4 - S6 pupils who require to complete practical work in order to achieve an SQA certificate will also return from Monday. Pupils currently in classrooms – primarily the children of key workers and those considered vulnerable – will retain their places.

    We will provide more updates once further details have been confirmed by the government.

    ISM members should contact our legal team via [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.

    Live performance, filming and TV

    No live events are permitted. Film and TV production can continue to take place. All such activity must be done in compliance with industry guidance.

    Performing arts venues

    The following applies where government guidance , physical distancing, hygiene measures, ventilation and any other mitigations have been complied with:

  • Theatres, concert halls and other performing arts venues must remain closed to members of the public, but they may be used to:
    (i)record a performance
    (ii)broadcast a performance online or as part of a radio or television broadcast
    (iii)rehearse, train, practise or otherwise prepare for a performance
  • Performing arts organisations should plan for the minimum number of people needed to operate safely and effectively.
  • Travel for work is only permitted where that work cannot be done at home.
  • Travel into or out of Scotland is not permitted unless for an essential purpose.
  • Amateur performances including amateur choirs, orchestras and bands

  • Non-professional performances or rehearsals are not permitted under level 4.
  • Places of worship

    Places of worship remain closed but can open for:

  • Acts of worship without a live congregation so broadcast or online only
  • Wedding or civil partnership ceremonies
  • Funerals
  • Christenings, bar mitzvahs and other life events should not take place

  • Funerals

  • Funerals are permitted with a maximum capacity of 20, provided the venue’s capacity allows for 2 metre physical distancing. Any person hired by the family is included in the 20 person limit.
  • Post funeral gatherings such as wakes are not permitted.
  • Singing or chanting is not permitted.
  • Bagpipers may be allowed but check with the venue or funeral director in advance as physical distancing and public health measures will need to be adhered to.
  • Other types of music are not mentioned other than recorded music should be used instead of singing.
  • Face coverings must be worn except by the person leading the service or by the person providing the eulogy.


    Wedding or civil partnership ceremonies

  • Wedding or civil partnership ceremonies are permitted with a maximum of five people. The limit includes musicians or singers and applies to ceremonies indoors or outdoors in a place of worship.
  • Singing and live music performance may resume, providing the appropriate mitigations and safeguards are in place, in line with the performing arts guidance and should not take place at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult or that may encourage shouting.
  • Communal singing is not permitted by those attending the ceremony.
  • It is a reasonable excuse to travel to a ceremony where you are one of the parties, witnesses, celebrant or registrar or any necessary interpreter.
  • Wales

    Updated 18 February 2021

    Wales was placed into its Alert Level 4 from 18 December 2020 – please see our news page on what alert level 4 restrictions mean for musicians here.

    Private teaching

    Our understanding remains that private face-to-face teaching in homes is not permitted.

    Teaching in schools

    The Welsh government confirmed that schools will begin a phased return for foundation phase learners from 22 February. Small numbers of vocational learners, including apprentices, will also be able to return to colleges. Children of critical workers and vulnerable learners will continue to receive face to face learning on the school site, and special schools and PRUs will continue to remain open where possible.

    We will provide more updates once further details have been confirmed by the government.

    Live performance

    All arts and entertainment venues are required to close to the public. Performances may be broadcast without an audience, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast. It is recommended that Public Health Wales guidelines are followed to ensure the safety of staff taking part.

    Places of worship

    Government guidance for places of worship in Wales has been updated as follows:

    Acts of worship


    An organised group or groups of musicians or singers can play a part in an act of worship, but a specific risk assessment and mitigating actions should be put in place to provide a Covid-19 safe environment.

  • Organisers must consider whether the activity is essential before proceeding.
  • Congregational singing, chanting, or shouting is not permitted indoors.
  • Singing or playing in groups should be limited in line with the capacity of the space given appropriate physical distancing requirements.
  • Anybody not in an organised group of musicians or singers should not join in.
  • Organised singing can happen in fixed groups of up to six people who should remain consistent and rehearse and perform together, whilst generally maintaining physical distancing amongst themselves.
  • Wind instruments should not be played indoors.
  • Organised groups of musicians should keep volumes low.
  • Only where physical distancing and other mitigations allow, a fixed team of up to six may perform with other fixed teams to create a larger group.
  • No gathering of these groups of six should exceed 15 people indoors, except where the performers are all professional. All rehearsal and performance should be based on a risk assessment. Outdoor gatherings of this kind are not permitted.
  • The decision whether to play an organ that requires air to be pushed through the mechanism should be based on a risk assessment and adherence with physical distancing, hand hygiene and cleaning guidance.
  • It is advised that you use alternative instruments such as a piano, electronic instruments or recordings.
  • Bell ringing or similar is permissible but with a risk assessment in place and other Covid-19 mitigations including social distancing and hand hygiene protocols.

  • Funerals

    Government guidance for funerals has also been updated:

  • The maximum number of people who can attend will be determined by the risk assessment taken by the owner of the venue and social distancing guidelines.
  • Attendance is limited to those responsible for arranging the funeral, those specifically invited by the organiser of the funeral, and the carer of anyone attending.
  • Those who are working at the venue are not included in the number of attendees.

    An organised group or groups of musicians or singers can play a part in the funeral service, but a specific risk assessment and mitigating actions should be put in place to provide a Covid-19 safe environment:

  • Singing or playing in groups should be limited in line with the capacity of the space given appropriate physical distancing requirements.
  • Wind instruments should not be played indoors.
  • The decision whether to play an organ that requires air to be pushed through the mechanism should be based on a risk assessment and adherence with physical distancing, hand hygiene and cleaning guidance.
  • It is advised that you use alternative instruments such as a piano, electronic instruments or recordings.
  • Anybody not in an organised group of musicians or singers should not join in.
  • Congregational singing should not occur indoors.
  • Singing and playing music outdoors is permissible for an outdoor service subject to a risk assessment and other mitigating actions. Physical distancing between households should be maintained, and volumes kept low wherever possible.
  • Bell ringing or similar is permissible but with a risk assessment in place and other Covid-19 mitigations including social distancing and hand hygiene protocols

  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies

    Government guidance updated as follows

  • The maximum number of people who can attend is based on the capacity of the building or room (once physical distancing measures are taken into account)
  • The organisers must expressly invite those they wish to attend within the prescribed capacity, as determined by those responsible for the building
  • Travel to Wales is permitted for the sole purpose of attending a ceremony. However, if travelling from another country, overnight stays are not allowed and all unnecessary contacts whilst making their journey to and from the ceremony must be avoided. Please check local restrictions where you are based as they may differ from the government guidance in Wales.
  • Please see below for the specific restrictions for musicians at ceremonies. Any permitted activities should be accompanied by a specific risk assessment and mitigating actions should be put in place to provide a Covid-19 safe environment.
  • Communal singing, chanting, shouting and/or playing of instruments that are blown into is not permitted. This applies even if social distancing is being observed and face coverings are used.
  • Anybody not in an organised group of musicians or singers should not join in.
  • Organised singing can happen in fixed groups of up to six people who should remain consistent and rehearse and perform together, whilst generally maintaining physical distancing amongst themselves .
  • Organised groups of musicians should keep volumes low.
  • Only where physical distancing and other mitigations allow, a fixed team of six may perform with other fixed teams to create a larger group.
  • The decision whether to play an organ that requires air to be pushed through the mechanism should be based on a risk assessment and adherence with physical distancing, hand hygiene and cleaning guidance.
  • It is advised that you use alternative instruments such as a piano, electronic instruments or recordings.
  • Bell ringing or similar is permissible but with a risk assessment in place and other Covid-19 mitigations including social distancing and hand hygiene protocols.
  • Ceremonies may be broadcast online or recorded.
  • ISM members receive a weekly news email covering news developments, advice, campaigning and resources. If you are a member and you are not receiving these emails and would like to, please email [email protected] and the team will look into it for you.