Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Parliamentary statement this afternoon (22nd September), Brass Bands England (BBE) has received clarification from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) over exactly how new legislation will affect brass bands in England.
They have been informed that despite wide-ranging changes affecting hospitality venues, including pubs and restaurants, the situation for brass bands remains unchanged from the advice issued by BBE on 17th September, in partnership with the DCMS.
The DCMS's current understanding was included in its communication today.
It states: "The guidance will also be updated to confirm that in COVID-19 secure venues or public outdoor places, non-professional performing arts activity, including choirs, orchestras or drama groups can continue to rehearse or perform together where this is planned activity in line with the performing arts guidance and if they can do so in a way that ensures that there is no interaction between groups of more than six at any time.
If an amateur group is not able to ensure that no mingling takes place between these sub-groups of no more than six (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place."
BBE Chief Executive Officer, Kenny Crookston told 4BR: "We are grateful to our colleagues at the DCMS for this clarification, but would like to emphasise that it is more important than ever that everyone who chooses to be involved in brass band activity at this time follows the latest guidelines and risk assessments.
As can be ascertained from the Prime Minister's statement today, this situation is very likely to remain extremely serious for at least the next six months.
If the brass band community wishes to retain any meaningful collective activity during this extended period, then it is incumbent on us all to make sure that this takes place in the most responsible way possible."
He added:"This includes making sure that no one is put under pressure to return to rehearsals and that bands continue to ensure that their Covid-secure preparations are uncompromising on safety, as has been the case for those we are aware have been enjoying an albeit tentative return to playing."
As can be ascertained from the Prime Minister's statement today, this situation is very likely to remain extremely serious for at least the next six monthsBBE, CEO, Kenny Crookston
Under the current guidance, in order to run a Covid-secure rehearsal, bands must produce and follow a risk assessment to cover all aspects of the rehearsal process, from members' arrival until they leave, to ensure social distancing throughout and making sure 'mingling' does not occur throughout the group.
Example risk assessments are available from BBEs advice and resources page ( https://www.bbe.org.uk/what-we-do/covid-19-advice-guidance-and-resources)
Question and answer session
BBE team members will be available from 6.00-8.00pm on Thursday (24th) to discuss any concerns bands may have over Covid-19 mitigation and offer advice on how to proceed as safely as possible.
This session is free of charge and open to all banding organisations, and those wishing to attend can sign up on the following link https://www.bbe.org.uk/civicrm/event/info%3Fid%3D97%26reset%3D1