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FAQs on The Easing of Covid-19 Restrictions

Frequently Asked Questions on the easing of the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

We’ve put together a collection of FAQs featuring questions from members and non-members alike. These answers mainly relate to the changes in Government guidance in England – but we will update members as we have more information for the devolved nations.

If you have a question that isn’t answered below, and you are an MU member, please contact your MU Regional Office for advice and assistance.

Live performance

Is live music allowed in pubs and bars?

In England – Yes, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed that live music can take place in pubs and bars as long as the Government’s Performing Arts guidelines are followed.

The recent ‘Rule of Six’ in England won't impact professional performers working in Covid-19 secure venues like gig venues, concert halls and pubs if they are following the published guidance.

Can indoor live performances take place everywhere?

No - indoor live performances are still not permitted in areas of local lockdown in England, in nightclubs in England, or anywhere in the devolved Nations. We will update members as this changes.

Can amateur groups start rehearsing and performing again?

In England – yes, the Government’s Performing Arts guidance applies to both professionals and non-professionals.

The guidance confirms there are no set limits on the numbers who can be involved in planned non-professional activity taking place outside and/or in a Covid-secure venue, but that attendees must be able to split into sub-groups of six without mingling. On top of this, organisations must ensure an appropriate Covid-19 risk assessment is carried out and that the number of individuals involved are able to be socially distanced at all times.

Organisers should review the guidance in full and ensure any planned activity is compliant before it goes ahead.

In Scotland – yes. The ‘rule of six’ restrictions do not apply where there is other sector specific guidance in force. This means that non-professional musicians in Scotland can play together in groups both indoors and outdoors – however this must be done in line with the Scottish Government’s legislation and their guidance on staying safe.

We are continuing to seek clarification for Wales and Northern Ireland and will update members as soon as we know more.

How are ‘professional’ and ‘non-professional’ musicians defined in the Government's Performing Arts guidance?

‘Professional’ musicians are defined as those who are performing for work purposes – this is true across all of the devolved Nations.

How can MU members find out if a venue is COVID-secure?

A business should not be open without it being "Covid-secure", so in most cases if you are booked and the venue is open, you shouldn’t need to worry.

However, for additional security, you can ask to see a venue’s Risk Assessment (businesses are actually advised to publish them on their website too). You may also see a Covid-Secure poster displayed on websites or in venues themselves.

How can MU members find out if a rehearsal space is COVID-secure?

Only venues that have followed the relevant government guidance can be considered “Covid-Secure”. There is relevant guidance for venues in England published on the Government’s website. Rehearsal spaces and studios can also attain “Covid-Secure” status in England, by adhering to the industry’s Music Production Guidance, as published by UK Music.

For Scotland, see the Scottish Government's guidance for Creative Studios and Shared Workplaces. For Northern Ireland, see Arts Council Northern Ireland's guidance.

Does the Rule of Six in England apply to audiences?

Yes, it does. The current guidance relating to audience attendance at music events in England is available on the Government’s website.

We, and other music industry bodies are desperate to see the return of live music in front of commercially viable audience numbers, are constantly liaising with DCMS in order to present ideas for the safe increase of audience numbers and establish an appropriate timetable for doing so.

We will keep members updated with any progress made on this. At the present time, DCMS are exploring testing of audience members in order to increase capacities. The MU is feeding into this work.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland venues are not open to audiences yet.

What about concerts on private land in Covid secure circumstances?

If the concert was a commercial venture, this would be allowed under the Government’s Performing Arts guidance with an audience complying with the "Rule of Six" (i.e. arriving and leaving in the same groups of up to six, and not mingling between these groups whilst in attendance) and following social distancing guidelines.

If you were simply inviting some friends to your garden socially, then the Meeting With Others Safely guidance would apply and only six people, including any musicians, would be able to attend.

We are currently seeking clarification for the devolved regions on this point.

What is the guidance for charity concerts?

Both professional and non-professional groups can perform at charity concerts in England, provided the Government's Performing Arts guidance is followed. Section 3 of the guidance is specifically dedicated to 'Managing Performances' and deals with topics like audience management, venue capacity, toilet facilities, staging, entrances and exits.

Concert organisers should ensure a full COVID-19 risk assessment is completed in relation to the event and that the relevant guidance is adhered to.

Does the limit on attendees at a wedding include any musicians hired to perform?

Yes, we have received confirmation from DCMS that the limit of 30 attendees in England includes any musicians. The number in Scotland is currently 20 including musicians, and in Northern Ireland numbers form part of a risk assessment by the venue.

This is something we are lobbying to have changed as it restricts our members’ work opportunities.

Music Education

Can private woodwind lessons start in a medium sized living room?

Yes, members can resume their face to face teaching as long as the other criteria are satisfied.

Is there an update to the advice on the MU website about teaching?

See our Music Teaching During the Outbreak page for our latest health and safety advice for teachers.

Singing, wind and brass instruments

Where can I find the research about singing, wind and brass instruments?

Information about the research is included in the Introduction section of the Government’s Performing Arts guidelines.

What is the current guidance for brass bands?

In England – as with choirs, both professional and non-professional brass bands can rehearse and perform provided the Performing Arts guidance is followed.

In Scotland professional brass musicians, as well as wind musicians and singers can play in groups indoors and outdoors – provided that they keep a distance of two-metres between them. Non-professional musicians can also play in groups indoors and outdoors, provided they follow the Scottish Government’s permitted numbers for social distancing – which is currently six people from a maximum of two households.

We are seeking clarification for Northern Ireland and Wales.

What does "cumulative aerosol transmission" mean?

In relation to the transmission of Covid-19, it means the number of aerosol particles existent in a given space depending on several factors.

These factors include:

  • The volume of the space
  • The number of individuals inhabiting that space
  • The activities those individuals are undertaking (and more specific measures - for instance with brass playing, the volume of performance, the specific instrument-type, the pitch of notes played)
  • The length of time they have inhabited that space
  • The ventilation system in place within that space

DCMS has said that the cumulative aerosol transmission from brass and woodwind playing is no greater than from just breathing or speaking – which is why the Government’s guidance on this has changed for England and for Scotland.

We’re keeping our Covid-19 advice updated as new information comes in. Get specific advice on your areas of work in our dedicated Coronavirus Advice Hub.