skip to main content

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 and Covid passes are required for some events
  • 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

Wales has been at alert level zero since 6:00 am on Saturday 7 August. We recommend that members review the central Welsh Government information on the current guidance and restrictions to check what is required and/or recommend for their activity at alert level 0, as this may have changed compared to previous alert levels and change further in the future.

A new Covid pass scheme will be introduced in Wales from Monday 11 October, following a vote in the Senedd on Tuesday 5 October, and information for members on that, along with some other key measures, is below.

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 are able to open, including nightclubs.
  • Face coverings are still be required in most indoor public places, with the same exemptions for people that cannot wear them. Face coverings are not 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 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 is still a legal requirement to conduct a Covid-19 risk assessment at alert level zero. This means many mitigations will need to be retained at alert level zero, at least while Covid-19 cases remain at the current high level.

Covid passes

It is now a requirement in Wales to show a valid Covid pass to attend:

  • nightclubs;
  • indoor no-seating events with more than 500 people;
  • outdoor no-seating events with more than 4,000 people; and
  • any event with more than 10,000 people.

And from 15 November Covid passes will be required to attend theatres, cinemas and concert halls.

The Covid pass system will allow people to prove they have received a negative lateral flow test result from within the previous 48 hours and/or been fully vaccinated.

It’s clear from the guidance that this is a requirement for audience members/customers, not workers, so it should not be necessary for members to show a valid Covid pass to work at gigs, events, and venues where Covid passes will be required. It seems that Covid passes will be required for many grassroots music venues, but we understand it will be possible for larger events and venues to use their discretion on whether to check a sample of passes rather than for every person in attendance.

We would urge members working, or due to work, in Wales to:

  • Take up the offer of the vaccine if you haven’t already
  • Register for the Covid pass in advance of needing it - the system requires personal ID verification that can take some time to be processed and we understand the pass currently has to be refreshed/downloaded every month for users that have been fully vaccinated
  • Consider getting and taking lateral flow tests
  • Read the guidance on the Covid pass scheme
  • Share official information/guidance on the Covid pass scheme with their fans and with the booking information for any gigs/events where a Covid pass may be required, in conjunction with the venue/promoter;
  • Tell us if your work has been affected by this scheme and/or if you come across issues with the scheme being applied/enforced.

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.

Latest Covid-19 news

A pair of pale blue denim shoes on painted white floorboards.

Court of Appeal Rule that the Calculation of the Government’s SEISS Scheme Discriminated Against New Mothers

Campaign organisation Pregnant Then Screwed submitted an appeal about the disproportionate impact SEISS calculations have on new mothers, which has now been accepted with the caveat that the urgency of the situation justified the discrimination.

Published: 29 November 2021

Read more about Court of Appeal Rule that the Calculation of the Government’s SEISS Scheme Discriminated Against New Mothers
Two musicians both on guitar playing in what appears to be a small pub environment

Wide Days 2021 Releases Suite of Resources

Covering topics including Covid-19 secure approaches to the future, international marketing tips, and getting your music on TV and radio – Wide Days have just released a selection of useful recordings on their youtube channel, following their 2021 Scottish Music Convention.

Published: 18 November 2021

Read more about Wide Days 2021 Releases Suite of Resources
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer holds up his red suitcase outside 10 Downing Street

MU Calls for Investment in Musicians Following Budget Announcement

Whilst the budget announcement did offer a welcome extension to the orchestras tax relief and business rate relief for venues, the choice not to take forward further music tax incentives and the hike in VAT could have a negative impact on the sector.

Published: 28 October 2021

Read more about MU Calls for Investment in Musicians Following Budget Announcement
#BehindEveryMusician

Learn how you can benefit from MU membership

Whether you are a full-time professional musician, occasional gig player, part-time music teacher, or anything in between, we've got you covered - from health & safety at work to numerous discounts and special offers.

Explore the benefits
#InvestInMusicians

Government must act to protect the future of music

Call on Government to invest in musicians at the heart of our £5.8bn industry. No-one should be left behind by Government support.

Government must act to protect the future of music

Get the latest coronavirus updates

No fear, no fuss, just the latest Coronavirus advice and resources for all musicians, delivered to your inbox.