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Petition Allow non-professional singing in groups of more than six indoors

I would like the government to retract the guidance issued on 18 May that says amateur choirs can only rehearse indoors in groups of six. Step 3 of the roadmap should allow choirs of any size to rehearse indoors providing social distancing is maintained and COVID-secure measures are in place.

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Singing together with other people has been an invaluable lifeline for those of us who have to work hard at managing our mental health. It is entirely possible to sing safely indoors when COVID-secure measures such as social distancing, good hand hygiene, and ventilation are put in place. This last-minute guidance that non-professional singers can only sing indoors in groups of six is hugely disappointing and damaging to mental health, and will do more harm than good.

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Government responded

This response was given on 9 June 2021

The Government eased restrictions from Step 3 to allow up to 6 people to sing indoors. It is right that we take a cautious response and follow the views of public health experts.

Non-professional groups of up to six people can now sing indoors, in line with the rule of 6 applying to many other indoor activities and gatherings, and can perform or rehearse in groups of up to 30 outdoors. In addition, multiple groups of 30 can now sing outdoors, provided the groups are kept separate throughout the activity, in line with other large events that follow the organised events guidance for local authorities.

This is an important step forward in the return of non-professional performing arts activity from Step 2. However, the Government knows that the restrictions on singing are frustrating to large numbers of amateur choirs and performance groups across the country and that many people have made sacrifices in order to drive down infections and protect the NHS over the last year. Everyone across Government wants to ease these restrictions as soon as possible.

However, it is important that we take a cautious approach in easing restrictions. We have followed the views of public health experts on singing. We are aware, through the NERVTAG (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/905062/S0628_NERVTAG_Assessment_of_transmission_of_COVID-19_through_musical_events.pdf) and PERFORM (https://chemrxiv.org/articles/preprint/Comparing_the_Respirable_Aerosol_Concentrations_and_Particle_Size_Distributions_Generated_by_Singing_Speaking_and_Breathing/12789221) studies that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets. This was backed up by a consensus statement from SAGE (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pheemg-aerosol-and-droplet-generation-from-singing-wind-instruments-and-performance-activities-13-august-2020), resulting in the suggested principles of safer singing being published (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-suggested-principles-of-safer-singing/covid-19-suggested-principles-of-safer-singing).

The Government recognises that some amateur groups perform in professional contexts, and even in national institutions, such as the Royal Albert Hall. Whilst it is for organisers and venues to determine how to operate in accordance with the relevant guidance and regulations, the limits do not apply to activity taking place for work or commercial activity.

We will continue to keep guidance and restrictions under review, in line with the changing situation. Further detail on step 4 will be set out as soon as possible.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

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