Covid-19 and the Group Singing Sector 30/04/2021

Sing Ireland understands that many community singing groups may wonder what the latest announcement of restrictions from the Irish Government means for them. Sing Ireland has also been following the restrictions and recommendations in Northern Ireland and given that the two jurisdictions are in different stages with regard to their vaccination programmes, the advice will be different. This statement speaks to the most recent announcements from the Republic of Ireland. The most recent information regarding Northern Ireland can be found HERE

Having had a long period of lockdown and restrictions, the group singing sector can now look to a brighter future as vaccinations gradually take effect and society and group singing starts to cautiously come back. Sing Ireland is hopeful but knows that patience is also required.

For the Republic of Ireland, following the announcement on the 29th April 2021, by An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin:

All outdoor events are subject to the new limit of 15 people. Indoor gatherings are not permitted at present.

‘From 10 May it will be possible for small organised cultural events to take place outdoors. This will provide much needed cultural experiences for both audiences and practitioners, subject to a maximum of 15 people, and will go hand in hand with the upgrading of outdoor facilities recently announced by my department.’

Full statement from Minster Catherine Martin is available HERE

In brief under these restrictions, singing groups can continue to plan their activities outdoors ensuring that they are strictly adhering to the public health measures, as per the detailed guidance and protocols that we have already issued and subject to the reduced numbers. Following international best practice and research, Sing Ireland recommends that masks are worn outside and that social distancing of at least 2 metres (ideally 2.5m) is observed by singing groups and choirs.

Currently, congregational singing and choirs are currently not allowed as part of religious services. More info at HPSC Guidance on Religious Services

Sing Ireland will continue to update the situation as we learn more.

Information Webinars and More

(Updated on 11/5/21) On 11th May 2021, we hosted a webinar to discuss and explore how choirs and singing groups will be able to return to rehearsing and performing in the same room, bringing some insight from groups that have been able to get back together from other nations across the globe. Sing Ireland was joined by Lyn Williams from the Gondwana Choirs in Australia and Thomas Caplin a conductor, professor and singer from Norway/Sweden. You can view the webinar recording here.

Likely next steps for choirs and singing groups once restrictions are further eased

Sing Ireland urges choirs and singing groups to consider how they can plan for a cautious restart of group singing, when it is possible to do so. However, each group must take ownership of whether to start in-person rehearsals again and should they decide to do so, they must minimise risk and take every precaution when planning. Covid-19 is still present and an exacerbation of the virus is possible.

Sing Ireland urges caution and to assess risk on an individual choir or singing group basis. Should a choir or singing group decide to return to rehearsals, Sing Ireland would urge them to appoint a risk assessment officer and follow measures and precautions to ensure that singing is as safe as possible and that they are protecting those who are most vulnerable. A risk assessment and resulting mitigation measures should be undertaken before resuming physical meetings.

Sing Ireland has also issued risk assessment and resulting risk mitigation suggestions in the following document. However, the clarifications that Sing Ireland sought have made it clear that a risk assessment or COVID officer must be appointed by singing groups ahead of any return to face to face meetings. Risk assessment and resulting risk mitigation measures must also be undertaken and is an individual responsibility for each group.

Please find risk assessment suggestions and questions from Sing Ireland HERE

‘PLANNING FOR YOUR SINGING GROUP IN UNCERTAIN TIMES’ is a document by Sing Ireland to assist you in planning for a return looking at your structure and goals

‘SUGGESTIONS TO IRISH CHOIRS AND SINGING GROUPS’ lays out the recommendations by NPHET and the Government alongside further suggestions and recommendations from Sing Ireland.

Further guidance from the Irish Government

Next steps

A number of higher-risk activities will be considered at the end of June for later in the year including:

  • mass gatherings/events (including spectators) indoors and outdoors

Work is continuing on a number of other issues in preparation for the coming months:

  • proposals on the holding of a limited number of pilot live events for arts, culture, sport and live entertainment (indoor and outdoor). This is to inform the safe reopening of these activities and events when the public health situation allows
  • preparation for the safe reopening of cinemas and theatres in June subject to public health advice