How Step 4 of England’s roadmap will affect music professionals Jump to main content

How Step 4 of England’s roadmap will affect music professionals

This is a dynamic news story, which will be updated as new information comes to light
Last updated: Thursday 15 July, 1.30pm

We welcome The Prime Minister's announcement that live music can resume at Step 4 of the recovery plan without the many restrictions which have made it financially unfeasible. However, there are still many questions and issues which leave us highly concerned for the future of the music sector.

On Monday 12 July, the Prime Minister confirmed that Step 4 will come into effect from Monday 19 July. The Government has urged caution and issued guidance to support the move to Step 4. Our legal team will update our Covid-19 England webpage over the next few days to explain any new and relevant guidance.

Live music

Although confirming that live music restrictions will be eased as part of Step 4, we are still waiting for further performing arts guidance to be published, and we are calling on the Government to provide a clear roadmap that allows the music sector to transition from limited capacity to full capacity performances safely.

Though the headline changes may appear positive, there are still major financial risks for live music promoters, and without a government-backed reinsurance scheme, these risks will continue to impede investment in our sector and its eventual recovery.

We are awaiting new guidance from DCMS, which is expected to be published this week.

Face masks and social distancing

The announcement that facemasks and social distancing are to no longer be mandatory also presents issues. Conflicting opinions between the Government and leading medical associations are likely to damage public confidence, and may in turn affect audience numbers for live music events, especially among more at risk groups. Indeed, many theatres are choosing to retain COVID safety measures to mitigate against this.

The ISM’s position is that private music teachers have the right to continue with any safety measures they wish to implement within their own private spaces, meaning that, if preferred, they can continue to ask students to wear face coverings and to maintain social distance. The need for risk assessment by private teachers remains, as COVID-19 has not gone away and remains a threat to health and safety. Decisions to relax any COVID-19 secure measures should be taken in collaboration with individual students, so that everyone feels comfortable with the measures chosen. We endorse Chris Whitty’s recommendation that face coverings should continue to be worn indoors when in close proximity to other people.

For visiting and peripatetic teachers, you should follow the schools' COVID-19 safety measures. If your employer or school asks you to do something which you feel puts you at risk, ISM members should contact our in-house legal team for further advice.

We offer comprehensive guidance on writing a risk assessment, as well as a sample risk assessment document for members.

Amateur choirs

The position for amateur choir rehearsals and performances looks more positive, with a commitment from Oliver Dowden made on social media that all restrictions on choirs will be removed at Step 4. However, the possibility of restrictions being reintroduced later in the year may negatively affect their ability to plan concerts.

We are awaiting new guidance from DCMS, which is expected to be published this week.


Gavin Williamson has set out new guidance for schools on Tuesday 6 July, relaxing the rules around bubbles to allow more pupils to remain in school as part of Step 4. A provisional date of Monday 16 August has been announced for further easing of restrictions in schools, coinciding with the start of the new school year. Guidance for schools for Step 4 changes has now been published.

Financial support

The Government has published the eligibility criteria for the fifth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant, with applications expected to open towards the end of July.

The ISM is here for you

Over the course of the next week, our team will be monitoring the situation very closely. We are awaiting the publication of government guidance which shows the exact nature of these changes to restrictions, and how they will be implemented. We thank you for your continued patience as we process this guidance and update our advice.

We understand that changes to restrictions can be worrying and lead to increased anxiety. ISM members have access to our confidential counselling service, and we also have an open directory of other mental health helplines.

Announcements about the lifting of restrictions are expected from the governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales within the next week. Keep an eye on our country-specific advice pages and social media channels for further updates.

Current advice for each nation