The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has confirmed that brass bands in England can consider a return to rehearsal as long as they meet strict legal, social distancing and health and safety requirements.
4BR understands that it follows a request for clarification sought by Brass Bands England to the official Covid-19 announcement made late on Thursday evening (13th August) which saw the UK Government state that venues would be able to host indoor performances in England from Saturday (15th August).
As reported, it appeared that in the initial guidance release there was no change to the current rules for amateur music making rehearsals covering groups such as brass bands.
However, it has since been confirmed that following the request by BBE, the guidelines were amended and now also cover brass bands in England who wish to resume rehearsal activity, but only if they fully meet and adhere to specific requirements.
Brass Bands England has told 4BR that this has been confirmed to them by DCMS.
BBE stated: "In response to the scientific studies commissioned by the DCMS, and with additional reference to the research presented recently by Brass Bands England (BBE), it has now announced notable changes in the rules, with considerable implications for brass bands.
It states that non-professionals can now engage in brass and wind playing, as well as singing, but in line with the wider guidance.
This will allow groups of up to six players to again rehearse outdoors, or with members of two households playing together inside.
Bands constituted as charities or businesses, or which run venues, may now host larger groups provided they can meet Covid secure guidelines and social distancing requirements.
All activity will require a risk assessment to be in place for the activity, and groups of over six or two households must recognise that accountability for all actions lies with the registered business, charity or venue concerned."
Brass Bands England has also made it very clear that the DCMS guidance is there only to support the resumption of activities and that they urge people to fully read and understand the implications.
In producing a comprehensive summary of the DCMS guidance for brass bands, Dr Alex Parker, BBE Relationship & Partnership Development Manager said: "â€¦all activity will need to be considered on its own merits taking into account specific situations and bands' own members' health and safety.
Organisers should familiarise themselves with the DCMS guidance and ensure that a proper risk assessment is available for all activity."
Analysis and explanation
BBE's analysis and explanations of how the guidance affects brass bands in England can be found at:
DCMS guidance on the changes to brass playing stated:
"Additional mitigations, such as extended social distancing, were previously required for singing, wind and brass given concerns that these were potentially higher risk activities.
DCMS commissioned further scientific studies to be carried out to develop the scientific evidence on these activities, which has allowed us to reconsider appropriate mitigations.
Both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with this guidance. People should continue to socially distance from those they do not live with wherever possible and venues, performers and audiences matched to ensure 2m distancing applies wherever possible.
Social interactions should be limited to a group of no more than two households (indoors and out) or up to six people from different households (if outdoors).
However, these studies have also indicated that it is the cumulative aerosol transmission from both those performing in and attending events is likely to create risk."
All activity will need to be considered on its own merits taking into account specific situations and bands' own members' health and safetyBBE
They added: "We are continuing to develop more detailed understanding of how to mitigate this potential aggregate risk, but in that context, organisations should therefore consider:
Maintaining social distancing wherever possible. Non-professionals should not engage in activities that may lead to social distancing being compromised.
Ensuring activity takes place outside wherever possible, including performance
Limiting the number of performers as far as possible (with non-professionals being restricted by rules on meeting people outside your home
Limiting the number of audience members, noting that capacity should be maintained at a level that allows social distancing to be maintained
Limiting the duration of social interaction opportunities ie rehearsals or performances as far as possible
Taking steps to improve ventilation as far as possible and whenever possible, both through the use of mechanical systems and opening windows and doors
Taking steps to encourage audiences to support the overall safety of the event, including discouraging activities which can create aerosol (such as shouting, chanting and singing along), seating individuals rather than allowing them to stand (to help maintain social distancing) and the other mitigations outlined in this guidance
Continue to take the other vital steps outlined in this guidance, including preventing unwell people from attending, maintaining cleanliness, supporting contact tracing and other mitigating measures.
By considering and adopting these measures cumulatively, the overall risk of the event will be reduced."
The DCMS guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts#arts-4-7
Further information on meeting people from outside your household: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/meeting-people-from-outside-your-household-from-4-july
4BR contacted the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and was informed that our questions would be dealt with by their Press Team. As yet no response has been received.
Brass Bands England's extensive, in-depth analysis and explanation of the new guidance and how it effects brass bands can be found at: