Government guidelines

Guidance for the performing arts

Revised guidance for the Performing Arts was published by the DCMS on 14 August, revised on 21 August, revised on 9 September, 17 September and 24 September. The latest update was published on 28 September and confirms that:

'in a COVID-19 Secure venue or public outdoor place, non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between separate and distinct groups of more than six at any time. If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than six (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.'

The guidance also confirms that it is against the law from 14 September 'for gatherings of more than six people to take place in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces)'.

Following the new government measures announced on 22 September, the Coronavirus outbreak FAQs also confirm that groups can continue to meet to rehearse and perform:

'3.18 Can I go to my hobby club / amateur musical group / other leisure activity?

It is against the law to gather in groups of more than 6, where people are from different households or support bubbles. Some activities - such as those organised for under-18s - are exempt. In a COVID-19 Secure venue or public outdoor place, non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than 6 at any time.

If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than 6 (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.'

We are currently re-visiting our guidance for choirs and conductors and updating it accordingly.

General social guidelines were updated on 22 September. Section 3 about' Rules in other venues and activities' is particularly relevant.

Guidelines for the use of community venues were updated on 24 September. Section 3 is particularly relevant to amateur organisations and we are currently looking into confusion arising over the wording of this, which has caused some venues to turn groups away, however clause 3c is clearer:

'Community facilities can host multiple groups of 6, subject to capacity, but groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.'

There is detailed practical information about the opening of village halls and community venues, and the practicalities of the 'groups of six' on the website of ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England). You might find this useful if you are talking with venue managers about your rehearsal plans.

Guidance for Devolved Nations

Please note that the guidelines above apply to England only.

Guidance has now been published for Scotland (21 August) here.

Guidance has just been published for Wales (16 September) here.

Guidance for Northern Ireland is here.

Guidance for teachers

Teachers in classroom settings should note that the guidance from the Department of Education applies rather than the DCMS guidelines. Section three has particular points about singing in schools.

Guidance for out-of-school settings for children

Guidance updated 28 September to include links to venue-specific guidance at the start. There is specific advice for those leading singing activities and keeping to groups of no more than 15 is advised.

Guidance for musicians in places of worship

Guidance for places of worship can be found here. Section four contains guidance on singing, chanting and the use of musical instruments and the latest update was 24 September, which has clarified the numbers allowed in choirs to be multiple groups of six, in line with the performing arts guidelines. The latest Church of England guidance can be found here and the RSCM's latest FAQs here.

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