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Overview of Covid-19 Restrictions for Musicians

Different levels of restrictions have been imposed across the four nations.

Last updated: 13 January 2021

Different levels of restrictions have been imposed across the four nations. We are keeping members updated as and when we have further details. Below are our latest updates on the current restrictions:

National Lockdown in England

The government has introduced a new lockdown in England from 5 January to 15 February 2021. Full details are available on the Government’s website.

Our assessment of the guidance relevant to MU members is below:

Recording and broadcasting

  • Professional Activity: Studios remain open for professional recording, rehearsal, broadcast and streamed performance where the venue is Covid-secure. Professional recording, rehearsing, broadcast and streamed performance can also take place in theatres, concert halls, and outdoors, provided this is done in line with Covid-secure guidance.
  • Non-Professional Activity: No non-professional activity can take place, unless in a household group or support bubble, within the home.

Gigs and live performances

  • Bars, pubs and restaurants: These venues will only be open for takeaway, delivery or drive-thru service, so no live performance to audiences will be possible.
  • Weddings, wedding receptions, funerals and wakes: Wedding and civil partnership services are only allowed in very limited circumstances (see the Government's guidance for details). Only six guests are allowed at these services and at wakes. 30 guests are allowed at funerals. Musicians are not included in these guest limits. Wedding receptions are not permitted.
  • Theatre and large-scale live performance: Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for recording, broadcasting and live streaming without an audience, provided this is done in line with Covid-secure guidance.
  • Busking: Our understanding is that busking is allowed for work purposes as long as it is not encouraging mass crowds. Audiences will need to adhere to the appropriate social distancing guidelines. Check with your local authority before you go ahead.

Orchestras and choirs

  • Recording: Professional training, rehearsal, recording, broadcasting and live streaming can take place without an audience in Covid-secure studios, theatres, concert halls or outdoors, provided this is done in line with Covid-secure guidance.
  • No non-professional recording and rehearsing can take place, unless in a household group or support bubble, within the home.
  • Performances with audiences: No performances with live audiences are allowed.

Music education

  • Schools: Schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.
  • Musical activities in schools outside of the core school day: Permitted for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers only.
  • Online: As always private online music tuition is permitted and is the safest option where technology and connectivity is available.
  • Home teaching: Permitted for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers only.
  • Private music schools and music centres: Online tuition permitted only, except for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, who can attend in person.

Community Centres

  • Community centres are only permitted to open for a very limited set of exempt activities. No musical activities (rehearsal, training, performance etc) are included in this list of exemptions.


  • You are permitted to leave home for a very limited number of reasons (see Government Guidance for full details). You can leave home, including leaving your local area, in order to work, where you cannot reasonably work from home.

Alert Level 4 in Wales

Alert level 4 restrictions have been in place across Wales since midnight on 19 December, earlier than had originally been planned, and seem unlikely to change before the end of January.

These measures will be reviewed at least every three weeks and information on them, and other alert levels which may apply in the future, is on the Welsh Government website.

Members who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and were previously ‘shielding’ are now advised by Welsh Government that they should no longer attend work or school outside the home.

Our assessment of the regulations and guidance relevant to MU members is below:


Other work

  • Our understanding is that the use of rehearsal and recording studios can continue at alert level 4, provided it’s for the purpose of work (whether by professionals or part-time professionals).
  • Venues can continue to be used for broadcasts (whether over internet, radio, or television) without an audience present and to rehearse for such a broadcast.
  • Given the guidance on outdoor gatherings and meeting people from other households we would advise against busking and any other type of live performance with an audience while Wales is at alert level 4.
  • We would also advise against any community or amateur group rehearsals, meetings, recordings, or performances taking place in person (other than in the home of people in the same household or support bubble) while Wales is at alert level 4, for the same reason.
  • Community centres, youth centres, and similar premises are required to stay closed at alert level 4, with the exception of opening to provide essential voluntary services or, at the request of local authority or Welsh Ministers, public services. These exemptions are unlikely to include members’ work but further details can be found on the Welsh Government website.
  • Ceremonies for weddings, funerals, and other life events such as bar mitzvahs and baptism are permitted in places of worship and Register Offices, but wedding or civil partnership receptions aren’t permitted, and there is detailed guidance relating to these ceremonies on the Welsh Government’s website. We recommend that anyone asked to work at a ceremony reads the relevant guidance and gets in touch for specific advice if necessary.
  • Restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, hotels, and conference venues are required to stay closed at alert level 4 other than for delivery/takeaway or in relation to specific exceptions, so no live performances or other work will be possible in these venues.

At alert level 4 you can only leave home or remain away from home for limited reasons, which include for work where it isn’t reasonably practicable to work from home. If you are planning to travel to England or the other UK nations you should check the regulations and guidance for your destination, as there are restrictions in place across the UK.

Scotland’s National Lockdown

Scotland is currently in lockdown until at least the end of January, though Nicola Sturgeon has indicated it may be extended. You can read the Scottish Government’s general stay at home guidance on their website.

Recording studios and recording activities are permitted in Scotland for the purpose of work by professional musicians, where the activities cannot be done at home. However it is important that all the relevant Covid-safety guidelines are followed, including whilst travelling to the studio.

Live performance in front of an audience is currently not permitted in Scotland.

For teaching, the Scottish Government states in its guidance on Organised Activities for Children that indoor activities are not permitted, including a specific reference to private tuition – so online teaching only is permitted in Scotland.

Although all of mainland Scotland is under lockdown, some islands remain in level 3. See the Scottish Government’s website for the latest details on which islands remain in level 3, and what this means.

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