On 1 July Lord Berkeley of Knighton asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their response to reports that orchestras and cultural venues are facing permanent closure as a result of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on performing music during Covid-19.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is not just the performance venues that are suffering but many churches and halls rented out for rehearsal space. Will the Minister update the House on the progress of research undertaken into singing and playing woodwind and brass instruments, to see how these activities might be safely undertaken while minimising the risk of spreading Covid-19?
Baroness Barran: Our understanding is that, as I am sure the right reverend Prelate is aware, there is a risk of increased transmission involved in singing and the use of wind instruments. That is why non-professional choirs and orchestras will not resume for the time being, although professional orchestras can start rehearsing from 4 July on a socially distanced basis. As the right reverend Prelate mentioned, we have commissioned scientific studies, which are being carried out by SAGE, to try to build a really robust evidence base. That advice will be used to inform future policy and guidelines.