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The governments of the four nations of the UK are now gradually releasing the details of their roadmaps to easing the Covid-19 lockdowns that have been in place:

  • Scotland moved beyond level 0 on 9 August
  • England is currently at Step 4 of the Government's roadmap to lift the national lockdown 
  • Wales is now at alert level 0
  • Northern Ireland implemented further relaxations to some restrictions on 12th August. The guidance continues to be reviewed periodically.

Restrictions and permitted activities in England

On the 19 July England moves to step 4 of the Government’s published Spring 2021 Covid-19 response roadmap for easing restrictions on permitted activities. Here we highlight the changes relevant to musicians.

Social distancing

  • There is now no limit on the number of people who can meet, either indoors or outdoors – although you are encouraged to meet outdoors where possible.
  • 2 meter or 1+ meter social distancing guidance has been removed (except for in a small number of specified situations, like at Passport Control).
  • There is now no legal requirement to wear face masks, although the government still recommends their use – especially in crowded and/or indoor situations, such as on a train or tube.

It is worth noting that employers and engagers are still legally required to conduct risk assessments for any work scenario, and as Covid-19 has not gone away, they are obliged to consider it as a risk and employ necessary mitigations against its spread. Meaning many mitigations will need to be retained, at least whilst Covid-19 cases remain at the current high level.

Events

  • There is now no limit on audience numbers for events, concerts and shows.
  • There is now no limit on attendees at weddings, funerals or other life events.
  • There are no restrictions on numbers for communal worship.
  • There are no restrictions on rehearsing for either professional or amateur groups or choirs.
  • All venues, including nightclubs, can now re-open to the public.
  • The requirement for table-service only in pubs has been removed.
  • Venues and businesses are encouraged to use the NHS COVID Pass to check people are fully vaccinated (although it is not a legal requirement).

Music education

In addition to the social distancing changes above, on 16 August it is planned to remove other COVID-19 restrictions applicable to schools:

  • Class / year group “bubbles” will no longer be required.
  • Under 18s will only have to self-isolate if they test positive themselves, not if they come into contact with someone who subsequently does so. Instead, they will be required to take a PCR test.
  • Start / End times for schools will no longer need to be staggered.
  • Schools will be required to offer pupils two COVID-19 tests at the start of the Autumn term.

For further information please see our Covid Teaching advice page.

NHS Test and Trace

  • From 16 August fully vaccinated adults will no longer be required to self-isolate if they have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. Instead, they will be advised to take a PCR test.

Restrictions and permitted activities in Wales

From 6:00 am on Saturday 7 August, Wales will be at alert level zero. At the time of writing not all of the new regulations and guidance documents for alert level zero have been published, but some specific links are listed below as well as information on some of the main changes that are relevant to members.

We will add more information on the changes that relate to specific areas such as teaching when possible, but we recommend that members working in Wales review the central Welsh Government information on current coronavirus restrictions to check what is required and/or recommended for their activity.

General measures at alert level zero

  • There are no legal limits on the number of people who can meet, including in private homes, public places, or at events.
  • All businesses which had to close under previous alert levels/restrictions will be able to re-open, including nightclubs.
  • Face coverings will still be required in most indoor public places, with the same exemptions for people that cannot wear them. Face coverings will not be a legal requirement in hospitality settings where food and drink is served, but it’s important to note that businesses may still choose to require face coverings based on their individual risk assessment.
  • Adults who are fully vaccinated as well as children and young people under 18 will no longer need to isolate if they are identified as close contacts of someone who has coronavirus. Everyone who has Covid-19 symptoms or a positive test result must continue to isolate for 10 days.
  • The legal requirements for businesses to take reasonable measures to ensure physical distancing is followed indoors have been removed. Premises which are open to the public and workplaces will have more flexibility about which reasonable measures they take to minimise the risk of coronavirus, but must carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment and continue to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus, tailored to that risk assessment and their specific circumstances.

It’s important to note that employers and engagers are still legally required to conduct risk assessments for any work scenario and, as Covid-19 has not gone away, they are obliged to consider it as a risk and employ necessary mitigations against its spread.

Furthermore, in Wales it will still be legal requirement to conduct a Covid-19 risk assessment at alert level zero. This means many mitigations will need to be retained, at least while Covid-19 cases remain at the current high level.

Other important points

Links for further information

Restrictions and permitted activities in Scotland

Scotland moved beyond Level 0 on 9 August. Beyond level 0, the legal requirement for physical distancing and limits on gatherings was removed and all venues across Scotland are able to re-open from 9 August.

Some protective measures will stay in place such as the use of face coverings indoors and the collection of contact details as part of Test and Protect. Capacity limits of 2000 people indoors and 5000 people outdoors will also remain in place, although some exceptions may be possible on a case-by-case basis. These will be reviewed on a three-weekly basis to ensure they remain proportionate.

Face coverings are mandatory in Scotland in most indoor public places and indoor communal spaces – including restaurants, cafes, bars and public houses. This is because transmission is most likely to occur when people are close to each other, in crowded and poorly ventilated places. For more information see the relevant guidance from the Scottish Government.

Most sector-specific Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance has been archived following the move beyond level 0, including the performing arts and venues guidance.

The Scottish Government has published general guidance for businesses and workplaces about reducing the risk of COVID-19, and supporting staff and customers, which you can read on the Scottish Government’s website.

There is also new general guidance on staying safe and protecting others, also available on the Scottish Government’s website.

It is important for members to remember to carry out an up-to-date Covid-19 risk assessment – read our advice on what this should entail.

Additional guidance from the Scottish Government on the reopening of cultural performances and events.

Teaching

See our Teaching during Covid-19 in Scotland advice for the latest details.

Restrictions and permitted activities in Northern Ireland

Social distancing of 1 meter is required indoors only now (the requirement outdoors has been removed).

Hospitality venues

Live music is permitted in licensed and unlicensed premises. Music must be at ambient levels that permit normal conversation and with suitable mitigations in place.

Weddings

  • Live music can take place at receptions in line with the hospitality guidance. The music must be at ambient levels that permit normal conversation with suitable mitigations in place.
  • Dancing is not permitted at weddings that are being held in licensed or unlicensed premises. The only exception to this is the couple’s ‘first dance’.

Theatres, venues and events

  • Theatres and seated venues for performances can open and live music can resume indoors with no restrictions on sound levels.
  • Entry to theatre, concerts and other types of performances will be by ticket only, bought in advance.
  • Audiences for indoor events must have allocated seating, guests must stay seated (unless using facilities) and face coverings must be worn indoors (unless exempt).
  • Live music is permitted at outdoor events, without restriction to volume.
  • Dancing is not permitted for audience members.

For more information on the regulations, refer to guidance on the NI direct website.

Find out about the Arts Council NI guidance on safe reopening of performance venues.

Teaching

See our Teaching during Covid-19 in Northern Ireland advice for the latest details.

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