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Further Guidance on the New Restrictions

We’ve produced some further guidance following the Government’s new restrictions – however we are continuing to seek further information from DCMS on how this will impact on our members’ work.

Published: 16 September 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:31 PM
Photograph of an acoustic guitar on a stand, a face mask is also hanging off the stand, parallel with the guitar.
We are awaiting clarification from DCMS Officials and will provide advice to members on this as soon as possible. Photo credit: Shutterstock

We have already received reassurance that the ‘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 published guidance. This applies to both rehearsals and performances.

The industry guidance for production of music in studios also remains in place.

Test and trace is now mandatory and guidance for workers and the self-employed can be found on the UK Government website.

We are receiving lots of queries about restrictions for non-professional musical activity, such as community choirs. We are awaiting clarification from DCMS Officials and will provide advice to members on this as soon as possible. In the meantime, keep an eye on our twitter channel and our regular Covid-19 update emails for further news.

Guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

In Scotland, the limit on people meeting has been reduced to a maximum of six people from two households, and again we're waiting for further clarification on how this will affect musicians. Unlike in England, children under 12 are not included.

The guidance for Scotland states that the restrictions do not apply where there is other sector specific guidance in force – for example for gyms, childcare or organised sports, and there will be some other limited exceptions for larger households, education, and places of worship. It does apply to hospitality. Venues in Scotland are not open to audiences yet. For further information see the Scottish Government's guidance for the performing arts and venues sector, as well as their guidance for creative studios and shared workplaces.

In Northern Ireland the number of people who can gather indoors in a private home was recently reduced from 10 people (from four households) down to six people (from two households). We are seeking clarification on whether this applies where there is sector specific guidance in place. Members may find Arts Council of Northern Ireland's guidance useful.

Wales has also announced a six person limit on people meeting, but we are awaiting further clarification on how this will affect members' work and performances.

FAQs on the new restrictions in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Please note: information provided here is based on current Government guidance and may be subject to change. We will update these FAQs as soon as we have further clarification from DCMS. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions then please get in touch through Twitter, or by contacting your MU Regional Office.

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?

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?

We are seeking advice from DCMS on this. The Government’s Performing Arts guidance, would apply, assuming it was a commercial venture. 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.

Does the limit on 30 attendees at a wedding include any musicians hired to perform?

Yes, we have received confirmation from DCMS that the limit of 30 attendees includes any musicians. This is something we are lobbying to have changed as it restricts our members’ work opportunities.

The number in Scotland is currently 20 including musicians, and in Northern Ireland numbers form part of a risk assessment by the venue.

Can amateur choirs and bands still rehearse under Covid secure conditions?

In England, amateur choirs and bands can continue to rehearse and perform together provided they have planned the activity in line with the Government’s performing arts guidance by completing a Risk Assessment, are meeting in a Covid safe venue or outdoors – and provided that they can do so in a way that allows them to remain divided into sub-groups of six.

No mingling must take place between these sub-groups of six, including when arriving, leaving or when taking breaks and socialising.

In Scotland, 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.

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