Live indoor performance and singing, wind and brass performance permissions updated

Social distancing

The Musicians’ Union (MU) and UK Music have applauded the UK government’s announcement of a return to indoor live performances in England and a relaxation of regulations for singers and players of wind and brass instruments from Saturday 15 August 2020.

The move follows intense lobbying from music industry organisations.

The MU has also been closely involved in the drafting of guidance for the reopening of workplaces to ensure appropriate health and safety measures are put in place. Social distancing guidelines must be followed for indoor performances alongside the Government’s Covid-19 guidelines for live performance.

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.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said:

‘The nation’s hard work to keep the virus under control means we can now make further careful progress on recovery with allowing audiences back for indoor performances, fans back at sports events and the reopening of more Covid-19-secure leisure businesses.’

Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, said:

‘While this announcement is warmly welcomed by the Union, we know that it won’t result in MU members being able to make a living again in the short to medium term.

‘The Government’s £1.57bn for the Arts, whilst a great investment in cultural organisations, will not filter down to the majority of musicians and creators. We still fear a huge talent exodus from the music industry which would be devastating and take years, if not decades, to claw back.

‘While many of our members’ workplaces remain closed and organisations are operating at severely limited capacity, we need continued Government support for our sector’s workforce specifically.’

Speaking about the updated regulations for singers and wind and brass performers, Trubridge added:

‘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.’

UK Music Acting CEO Tom Kiehl said:

‘Further easing of lockdown for live performance is a symbolic moment, yet it remains extraordinarily difficult to resume events and gigs in an economically viable way.

‘The Government must ensure support measures for all aspects of the sector – including venues, festivals, musicians, performers and crew – are in place while many individuals and businesses in the sector still cannot get back to work.’

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