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News & Views
Working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic
Date posted: 21 December 2020

The increasingly serious situation, with the start of new lockdowns and Tier 4 restrictions, sadly means that in-person community music activity is now not permitted or advisable in much of the UK.

DCMS guidance for performing arts activity involving non-professionals warns: "you should consider the case for proceeding (or not) with the activity given the wider health context in your area and the context of your participants, particularly if vulnerable individuals are involved."

Due to how quickly the situation has progressed, you should be aware that up to date detailed advice and guidance for all areas of music activity is not yet available. However we will continue to make regular updates to this page and sincerely hope that we may be able to share better news with you soon in 2021.

In the meantime, we strongly recommend online or remote delivery where at all possible. We recognise the huge challenges this situation presents for all community musicians, and warmly encourage you to connect with our community via our Gatherings, social media, and Bulletin Board newsletter for support, friendship and inspiration.

Colleagues across the UK and beyond are developing resources to help music practitioners plan activity and assess risk in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through our role in the ArtWorks Alliance network for participatory arts, we are collating a toolkit of information, guidance and templates relevant to Sound Sense members.

When resuming “face-to-face” or "in-person" community music activity, we urge members to follow these three steps:

  • Make sure you follow the government rules and guidelines that apply to your country. The rules differ depending on where you operate in the UK, you can find links to relevant guidance for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland below.
  • Prepare a risk assessment for each community music activity you plan, specifically showing that you have taken all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. We have provided links to risk assessment templates below as well as helpful advice on safe working.
  • Where government guidance is not specific to your situation, make a record of your interpretation on your risk assessment so that you can refer back to your decision-making as required

 

Important note about insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic

We have been in touch with our insurer, who confirms that, as long as members are complying with the government guidelines for re-opening and social distancing, then the Sound Sense Public Liability Insurance policy (for individual members) will operate as normal.

We are also pleased to confirm that our PLI covers members for the delivery of music sessions via online platforms, and that this information is now displayed on individuals' certificates. Members can download updated certificates as required via the Members Area Homepage.

 

England

From 20 December, new Tier 4 restrictions have been introduced across London and much of south east England. Limited provision for some in-person activity in Tiers 1 to 3 remains, but this should only take place in strict accordance with social distancing rules and after full consideration of your local context and the health of your participants: 

gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts

 

Scotland

From 26 December, all of mainland Scotland plus the Isle of Skye will be placed under the most stringent Tier 4 restrictions for at least three weeks. Other islands will be placed in Tier 3. You can check the local protection level for your area, and find out what you can and can't do here:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/

The Scottish Government has also recently updated (14 December) its guidance for the performing arts and venues sector. The key thing to note is that non-professionals or groups which contain non-professionals may refer to this guidance for their activities but must at all times do so in line with the relevant local protection level.

gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-performing-arts-and-venues-sector/

For those of you working in/with schools, Education Scotland, has also updated its practical activities guidelines as of 18 December:

education.gov.scot/media/g31bynx4/music-guidelines-18-12-20.pdf

 

Wales

A Wales-wide level 4 lockdown started on 20 December (originally planned for 28 December, this lockdown was brought forward due to the rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant). Alert level 4 means that all arts and entertainment venues must close:

gov.wales/alert-level-4-frequently-asked-questions

 

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is set to enter a six-week lockdown from 26 December, during which leisure and entertainment venues must not open:

nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you

 

General interest

Please note that the resources listed below may not reflect the very latest situation with regard to national and regional lockdown measures. You should always check publication dates and read in conjunction with the latest Government advice for your country.

Making Music has published a Covid-19 resource to help you answer the question "Can my group get back to in-person activities?" which tracks the changing guidance across the four nations of the UK:

makingmusic.org.uk/resource/can-group-get-back-in-person

 

Anyone engaged in teaching or delivering music activities online should check out the excellent support and resources offered by Sound Sense member NYMAZ through their Connect:Resound project:

nymaz.org.uk/connectresound/resources

 

ABCD, the Association of British Choral Directors, has collected a list of useful links and guidance, particularly with regard to singing activities:

abcd.org.uk/Resources/COVID-19

 

Sound Sense member Sound Connections offers a wealth of freely available resources on its website, including videos of recent training sessions such as Building your resilience and keeping well through music and Delivering Music Activities Online with Children and Young People:

sound-connections.org.uk/resources

 

ISM has published a range of useful resources, including a webinar on preparing a risk assessment and guidance summaries for resuming private music teaching, performing and working with amateur music groups:

ism.org/advice-centre/coronavirus-listing

 

Creative Scotland   If you scroll down this page you will see the risk assessment templates for use by applicants to Creative Scotland's Open Fund. The templates use a "traffic light" system to assess the severity of risk and the need for action.

creativescotland.com/funding/funding-programmes/open-fund-sustaining-creative-development

 

Our colleagues at the Musicians’ Union have produced detailed guidance for music teachers following the July updates to government advice for England. Note that you do not need to be an MU member to access this advice

musiciansunion.org.uk/Home/Advice/covid-19/music-teaching

 

Freiburg University of Music, Germany   Risk assessment of a coronavirus infection in the field of music – fourth update of 17 July 2020

mh-freiburg.de/en/university/covid-19-corona/risk-assessment

 

Our colleagues at Music Mark have produced an excellent guide for music services and other music education providers planning activities in schools, including guidance on cleaning instruments made from delicate and/or natural materials that are likely to be damaged by common disinfectant products:

www.musicmark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Guidance-for-Providers-.pdf

 

Kate Fellows, Head of Learning and Access at Leeds Museums & Galleries recently delivered a presentation on Spaces for Learning: Covid Secure learning and engagement with groups for ArtWorks Alliance members. Available to download below, the presentation slides provide a useful starting point for anyone starting to think about the safety issues involved for groups sharing spaces and handling objects.

 

Sound Sense has created a COVID-19 Risk Assessment template to help members assess the safety of your community music workshops. The template is unbranded - so that you can tailor it to your own needs - and is available to download below and can also be found on our Resources & Publications page.