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Living with COVID-19

As we move away from COVID-19 restrictions in all four UK nations, the ISM understands how some members may be concerned about the ongoing risks associated with the spread of the virus, especially for more vulnerable members of society.

In this article, we will make suggestions for managing the risk of spreading and/or catching COVID-19.

Risk assessment

It is crucial to have a risk assessment in place. Prior to COVID-19, a workplace risk assessment was a mandatory requirement under health and safety legislation. During the pandemic, risk assessments were adapted to include the management of the risk of spreading the virus. Although all four UK nations are moving away from imposing legal restrictions in relation to COVID-19, this does not prevent workplaces, venues and individuals from retaining mitigations to minimise the risk of spreading the virus under their risk assessments.

Here are some suggestions for COVID-19 mitigations that could be included in a risk assessment which covers a variety of risks, not just COVID-19:

  1. Ventilation
    It is well documented that COVID-19 spreads via particles in the air. By increasing the amount of ventilation in a room is one way of decreasing the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 and other common respiratory diseases.
  2. Hand hygiene
    Regular hand washing or hand sanitising is still recommended by the UK Government. This helps to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other common respiratory diseases.
  3. Cleaning
    Surfaces and belongings can be contaminated with COVID-19 and other germs when people who are infected touch them or cough, talk or breathe over them. Cleaning surfaces will reduce the risk of you catching or spreading infections.
  4. Social distancing
    This is another way of minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19 between people but members are entitled to continue to implement a social distancing policy if they so wish. Where members run amateur groups, they could consider maintaining social distancing throughout any musical activity.
  5. Face coverings
    As mentioned above, research suggests that the virus is airborne, so wearing face coverings will help to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
  6. Ask people with COVID-19 symptoms to stay away
    Just like with any other infectious disease, it is reasonable for individuals to request that people with symptoms should not attend in person. Where members are private teachers, they could continue to offer an online alternative for situations where a student has symptoms but is well enough to attend.
  7. Avoid congestion in communal areas
    Where members are running or involved in a group activity, they could consider implementing one-way systems or asking people to avoid congregating in large groups inside.

What must happen in a workplace regarding COVID-19?

Whilst the legal requirement to specifically cover COVID-19 in a risk assessment has been removed in all four UK nations, all governments recommend that workplaces continue to consider what mitigations can be put in place to minimise the spread of COVID-19 as well as other communicable diseases. Ask to see the risk assessment for your workplace and ensure that it continues to contain COVID-19 measures.

What if my students, their parents/guardians, or members of my amateur group do not agree with my risk assessment and/or mitigations?

The ISM’s position is that members have the right to continue with any safety measures they wish to implement within their own private spaces. Decisions to relax any non-statutory COVID-19 secure measures should be taken in collaboration with individual students/participants, so that everyone feels comfortable with the measures chosen.

I am a performer, what should I consider before performing at a venue?

You could consider asking the organiser or venue about the following:

  • risk assessment
  • ventilation in the venue
  • if there is easy accessibility to the dressing rooms and toilets
  • the layout of the performance and backstage areas
  • any other possible hazards

    Remember you should follow any policies and procedures the venue or organisation has in place, so ensure you know what these may be.
  • I am clinically extremely vulnerable, what can I do?

    All UK governments have said that those classified at higher risk from COVID-19 can follow the guidance being issued to the general population but should take extra care to follow recommendations concerning vaccination, ventilation, social distancing and face coverings. If you are working, you should talk to your employer about an individual risk assessment and whether reasonable adjustments need to be made to protect you.

    Access to discounted Lateral Flow Tests

    Access to free Lateral Flow Tests were restricted in England from 1 April. In Wales, they are only available to people with symptoms. Scotland and Northern Ireland are due to review their stance regarding free tests by the end of April.
    The ISM has secured a discount for purchasing Lateral Flow Tests from Posturite.

    Counselling service

    If a member is feeling particularly concerned about the continued risks associated with COVID-19, they can access the free counselling service by contacting Health Assured on 0800 042 0136.

    The ISM website contains more information on health and safety for musicians. We continue to keep our COVID-19 advice pages up to date for all four UK nations and if you have a specific query then do not hesitate to contact the ISM legal team via email: [email protected].