Today, the UK Government has updated the guidance for the performing arts in England to reflect new Public Health England research into transmission risks from singing, wind and brass performance.
This is fantastic news after months of uncertainty for MU members who sing or play wind or brass instruments. Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, has been calling for these changes alongside representatives of other performing arts and music organisations.
"These changes are very welcome as they will facilitate greater numbers of musicians to perform live and record in studios in England. The news will also be very reassuring for our members who teach singing, wind or brass and also for non-professionals who were previously prohibited from performing at all.
“We have been asking for research in this area as we were absolutely convinced that the risks involved in these activities were being overstated. We are pleased that more of our members will now be able to return to work under appropriate health and safety guidance."
Scientific studies were commissioned as the result of lobbying
Additional mitigations, such as extended social distancing, were previously required for singing, wind and brass given concerns that these were potentially higher risk activities.
The MU was unconvinced of the increased risk and has made this argument to Government Ministers and Officials repeatedly over the past few months. As a result of lobbying, the Department of Culture Media and Sport commissioned further scientific studies to be carried out to develop evidence on these activities, which has now been approved by SAGE and has enabled the government to revise their guidelines.
Both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with this guidance.
Research and lobbying continues
The research shows that there is little difference between singing and speaking at the same volume when it comes to aerosol production and the ‘droplet effect’ from wind and brass is negligible.
However, the new studies have also indicated that it is the cumulative aerosol transmission from both those performing in and attending events that is likely to create risk and therefore adequate and appropriate ventilation should be in place. Research continues and the UK Government's advice will be updated as further evidence is produced.
Our Regional Organisers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are also lobbying for amended guidance on singing, wind and brass and we hope that the new evidence produced by Public Health England will inform the relaxation of equivalent areas of guidance in the devolved Nations.
Stay up to date with our latest advice and guidance for musicians during the Covid-19 pandemic.