England lockdown updates

Last updated: Thursday 12 November 2020, 12:00pm

What is happening?

The government has published information on the lockdown in England which is due to start on Thursday 5 November . This includes guidance, which is the public-facing advice which is up on the government website and legislation, which is the law that underpins that advice.

When offering advice to musicians, the ISM's in-house legal team work to understand the legislation, particularly in areas where the guidance is unclear or leaves questions unanswered, in order to offer information for musicians based in the law. Where further clarity is needed, we work with our contacts across government, the civil service and other music organisations to find answers.

The legislation to formalise the process of the lockdown passed a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday 4 November by a majority of 516 to 38. The lockdown will therefore commence on Thursday 5 November.

We have been seeking clarification from the Department for Education on the conflicting guidance for private music teachers. We have received word from the Department for Education that there are forthcoming updates to this guidance expected to be published next week.

We will keep this page updated as more is confirmed about professional music activity during the lockdown in England.

What we know so far:

  • Private face-to-face music teaching: The Department for Education has clarified that face-to-face teaching can take place in private homes where there is no viable alternative. The guidance states:

    'If there is no viable alternative, music lessons in private homes can resume, following the same guidelines, and additionally following the government guidance for working in homes, and the guidance for out-of-school provision.'
    Read the full guidance.

    In light of this, members in England should teach online where at all possible, but can return to face-to-face teaching in cases where there is no other option for carrying out your teaching work. Please make sure you have a fully updated risk assessment and make all safety mitigations possible.
    We are advised 'private homes' means 'the homes of pupils', and not the homes of teachers. So while it is permitted to give lessons in your pupils' homes, it is not currently permitted to allow them into your home or studio, because of the restriction on pupils leaving their home. We are continuing to press for the exception to apply so as to permit teaching from the teacher's home too. We will notify members of any updates as soon as we can.
  • Arts venues are places of work and can stay open for rehearsals and live-streamed performances.

  • Music in schools: New guidance has been issued by the Department for Education on 4 November. This guidance clarifies that music, dance and drama can continue being taught in schools as long as safety precautions are implemented. The new guidance refers teachers to the information on teaching music contained in the full opening: schools guidance, which was last updated on 22 October 2020. This makes it clear that classroom music lessons can continue with mitigating measures and that peripatetic teachers can move between schools and continue teaching. However, more general information on the lockdown about staying at home states that, 'You can leave home for education (formal provision, rather than extracurricular classes such as music or drama tuition).'
  • As not all instrumental lessons are taught during school time, but are also not necessarily classed as extracurricular activities, we are seeking clarification on whether instrumental music teaching that takes place on school premises, but not necessarily during core school hours, is still able to go ahead.

  • Amateur groups and choirs: Minister for Digital and Culture Caroline Dineage has confirmed in a letter to sector organisations that amateur music group activity should not go ahead during this lockdown period.
  • Places of worship are closed for general services, and wedding and civil partnerships should not go ahead. Funerals are allowed up to 30 people in attendance and 15 people at related ceremonies (eg the scattering of ashes) Anyone working at the ceremony is not counted in these numbers. They may also open to broadcast services.
  • Recording studios are not on the list of businesses that should close and can open where the work taking place cannot be done from home.