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News & Views
Working safely during the COVID-19 pandemic
Date posted: 09 November 2020
As England starts a new national lockdown, and Wales comes to the end of its firebreak period, we are continually updating this page of guidance and resources to reflect the latest situation.

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” 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 5 November, England enters a new lockdown which is due to last at least until 2 December. Key points for community musicians and teachers include:

  • Arts venues are places of work and can stay open for rehearsals and live-streamed performances by professional musicians
  • The latest DCMS guidance confirms that "non-professional activity, such as amateur choirs and orchestra, cannot take place".
  • Face-to-face private teaching outside of the school day should not take place (extracurricular music tuition is specifically excluded from the guidance that allows you to leave your home for educational reasons)
  • New guidance from DfE clarifies that "Music, dance and drama can be undertaken in school so long as safety precautions are undertaken."

You can find information on on the new restrictions here:

gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november

The latest version of the DCMS guidelines for the performing arts is available at:

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

ABCD, the Association of British Choral Directors, has prepared this helpful interpretation of the DCMS guidance. It’s intended for those involved in community-based adult choirs, but much of the advice can be applied to a wider range of musical activity. Note that this guide was written before the announcement of the new national lockdown, but we are leaving it here to help you with planning activity for when the restrictions are eased - an updated version will be available soon.

abcd.org.uk/storage/COVID19_resources/Getting_your_choir_back_-_practical_considerations_for_choirs_and_conductors_revised_01.10.20.pdf

 

Scotland

From 2 November, the Scottish Government is operating a new system of local protections numbered zero (least restriction) to four (most stringent restrictions). 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 (16 October) 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 published its music guidelines on 30 October. A range of mitigations are recommended to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, and unfortunately the advice is that "young people should not engage in singing, or playing wind and brass instruments with other people, given these activities pose a potentially higher risk of transmission".

https://education.gov.scot/media/vbxc5nkj/music-guidelines-30-10-20.pdf

 

Wales

With the end of the firebreak today, a new and simpler set of measures will be in place, including the welcome news that: "Up to 15 people can take part in an organised indoors activity and up to 30 in an organised activity outdoors, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other covid safety measures are followed"

gov.wales/firebreak-lockdown-in-wales-ends

You should also refer to the Welsh Government guidance for the performing arts which was published on 15 September:

gov.wales/rehearsing-performing-and-taking-part-performing-arts-guidance-phased-return-html

You should note that the Welsh Government considers singing and the playing of wind and brass instruments to carry higher risks of transmission, and so additional measures are required - see section 3.19.

 

Northern Ireland

The latest guidance for Northern Ireland is available at: 

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

These rules allow for indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people, as long as you are not in a private home or garden and you maintain social distancing and good hygiene practices.

For more information specific to Northern Ireland, please refer to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's In the bubble of our making: reopening the arts in Northern Ireland, which brings together “developing best practice, legislation and guidance by the Government, NHS, PHA and HSENI in response to the Covid-19 pandemic”. It’s important to note that these guidelines still prohibit singing and the playing of wind and brass instruments by non-professionals.

artscouncil-ni.org/images/uploads/publications-documents/In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf

 

General interest

 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

 

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.