Government guidelines

A new four-stage roadmap was announced by the Government on 22 February to lift the current restrictions in England over the next few months.

Guidance for the performing arts in England

Revised guidance for the Performing Arts in England was published by the DCMS on 14 August and revised on 21 August, 9 September, 17 September, 24 September, 16 October, 5 November, 1 December, 23 December, 6 January and 15 March. The latest revision was published on 26 March to reflect the gradual easing of restrictions.

Whatever type of choir you lead, you are strongly recommended to read this guidance in full, which you can find here. There is specific guidance for non-professional activity, as well as professional activity.

If you lead young singers (whether within the school timetable or in an out-of-school setting), then there are further guidance links below. If you lead a choir in a place of worship, there is also further guidance below.

Guidance for Devolved Nations

Links to the latest guidance in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are below.

Government research

DCMS commissioned scientific studies to develop the scientific evidence on singing, wind instruments and performance activities. This included the PERFORM and SOBADRA research projects. You can read the resulting SAGE paper here.

The Government's Singing and Wind Instrument Group, established in June 2020 as part of the COVID-19 response, published a suggested principles of safer singing in November 2020 and we recommend that you read this as part of your risk assessment and planning.

England from 29 March

The guidelines allow for non-professional rehearsing to recommence outdoors only from 29 March, within local gathering limits.

'People can take part in non-professional performing arts activity outdoors in groups of up to 6 people, or as a group of 2 households. A group made up of 2 households can include more than 6 people, but only where all members of the group are from the same 2 households or an exemption applies (for example a support bubble). Social distancing should be maintained between people who do not live together or share a bubble.'

There are also changes to the guidance for worship from 28 March, Palm Sunday.

'A single small group of singers can perform and rehearse indoors only if essential to an act of communal worship. This should be limited to as few singers as possible, with social distancing being maintained at all times. Communal singing should not take place.

'Outdoors, in the grounds or the outside space of a place of worship: When communal worship takes place outdoors, the congregation may join in with singing, and should follow the principles set out in the performing arts guidance.'

Click here for revised worship guidelines and see below for links to the latest RSCM details and Church of England guidance.

Future key dates and a summary of what singing activity we anticipate will be able to happen on those dates, assuming that the roadmap continues to proceed as planned. We hope to have confirmation and further detail shortly before each 'step'.

No earlier than 12 April (Step 2)

  • The guidance for reopening businesses and venues allows for some outdoor activity: 'Some outdoor events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for work purposes, or supervised activities for children).' Outdoor rehearsals should therefore be possible provided they follow these conditions, with more than 6 people in total, but no more than 6 people can mix (as in hospitality settings). As previously, we recommend that you treat each person singly and that there is no mixing at all.
  • Community venues will open for limited activity, but 'indoor events or gatherings outside of someone's household or support bubble are not permitted at Step 2 (even in a venue permitted to open)'
  • Events Research programme begins. This will include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes.
  • Outdoor attractions open including drive-in events
  • Outdoor hospitality open
  • All children able to attend any indoor activity

No earlier than 17 May (Step 3)

Although the current performing arts guidelines do not mention further dates, the DCMS expects that 'non-professional activity will be able to resume at Step 3, in line with social contact rules indoors and outdoors.'

  • The guidance for reopening businesses and venues allows for indoor and outdoor activity: 'both outdoor and indoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for organised sport or exercise, supervised activities for children or a significant life event). Both indoor and outdoor activity should therefore be possible provided they follow these conditions, with more than 6 people in total, but no more than 6 people can mix (as in hospitality settings). As previously, we recommend that you treat each person singly and that there is no mixing at all.
  • Indoor entertainment reopens, including concert halls, plus remaining outdoor entertainment
  • Indoor events and remaining outdoor events, including live performance events will be permitted. Attendance at events will be restricted to 50% of capacity up to 1,000 people for indoor events, and 50% of capacity up to 4,000 people for outdoor events.

No earlier than 21 June (Step 4)

Larger events

No legal limit on social contact

Guidance for teachers

Updated 16 March

Updated guidance for schools can be found here. Information about music in schools is under the section on curriculum.

Guidance for out-of-school settings for children

Guidance updated 26 March.

For the duration of the national lockdown, wraparound childcare and out-of-school settings should only offer face-to-face provision for:

  • children of critical workers, where it is reasonably necessary to support their parents or carers to work, seek work, attend a medical appointment, or undertake education or training
  • vulnerable children and young people

From 29 March, outdoor provision can be offered to all children, with indoor provision as above. From 12 April it's expected that full out-of-school provision can recommence.

Youth activities

Providers of youth services and activities should also refer to the National Youth Agency's guidance for managing youth sector spaces and activities during COVID-19.

Registered early years providers

Registered early years providers caring for children under the age of 5 should refer to the guidance for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

We recommend reading the websites of our music education colleagues for more detail on education guidelines:

Music Mark

ISM

Guidance for musicians in places of worship in England

Updated 26 March

Click here for revised guidance for places of worship, which came into effect from 28 March.

The latest Church of England guidance can be found here and the RSCM's latest FAQs are here (both updated to reflect the latest guidance).

Guidance for Devolved Nations

Please note that the guidelines above apply to England only.

The Scottish Government's timetable for easing of restrictions can be found here and allows for the long-awaited return of non-professional activity to return outdoors only on 17 May.

Guidance Arts guidance for Wales is here and the latest general guidance as the lockdown is lifted is here

General Arts guidance for Northern Ireland is here and current lockdown guidance is here which applies until 1 April 2021

Information from other organisations

Find out more information from our fellow music organisations, including detailed information for the Devolved Nations:

ISM

Making Music

Musicians' Union

Community venues

Community venues are expected to reopen no earlier than 12 April, for limited activity only.

Click here to go back to our main COVID-19 resource page and to find our risk assessment guidance.