Sing Ireland Welcomes the Gradual Return of Singing Groups -Updated 26/10/21
Updated 4 December
Sing Ireland warmly welcomes the inclusion of group singing in the roadmap announced by the Irish Government on 31st August, 2021. We acknowledge the patience and strength of the group singing sector over the past eighteen months and it is with heartened anticipation that we look to the next months and to the return of group singing.
The number of Irish people who regularly sing in choirs and singing groups is significant. Research from the EU Culture Programme reports that over 229,000 people are involved in group singing in Ireland and this is an activity from which so many in Irish society derive enormous well-being, social and health benefits. Sing Ireland is excited and glad that the group singing sector can look to a gradual return to this joyous and life-affirming activity.
In considering the ways that singing groups can return it is essential that the health and well-being of singers/choristers, conductors, accompanists, and their families takes precedence. Each singing group must make its own decision as to whether and when to start in-person rehearsals again. Should they decide to do so, Sing Ireland has identified the steps required to minimise risk and we would urge groups to take every precaution when planning. Covid-19 is still present and an exacerbation of the virus is possible but that risk has been reduced given the high level of vaccination of the Irish people.
When a choir or singing group decides to return to indoor or outdoor rehearsals, Sing Ireland would urge them to appoint a safety co-ordinator/covid officer and to take precautions to ensure that singing is as safe as possible and that they are protecting themselves, others, those who are most vulnerable, and the wider community. A risk assessment and resulting mitigation measures should be undertaken before resuming physical meetings. In order to aid this return, Sing Ireland has launched a Covid safety online course that will give choirs the tools to ensure that they have considered all of the necessary safety measures this is available HERE. An updated risk assessment document is available HERE
Sing Ireland appreciates that there will inevitably be different comfort levels amongst singers as they look to return to their choirs and singing groups. It will be important for the sector that singing groups cater to the most concerned singers in their groups so that all who wish to return to singing can do so in a safe and supportive environment.
The following information and guidelines are taken from Gov.ie HERE
From 20th September (with protective measures)
For Group Activities (e.g. rehearsals)
Organised indoor group activities
Organised indoor group activities (sports, arts, culture, dance classes) can take place with capacity limits of 100 people (with appropriate protective measures) where all patrons are immune (fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within previous 6 months), or accompanied minors (under 18).
Where patrons have mixed immunity status, pods of up to 6 participants will be permitted (excluding adult leaders/teachers).
Multiple pods will be permissible subject to protective measures.
Number of pods will have regard to the size of the venue and substantial social distance between individual pods. For further information on pods please see HERE.
Organised outdoor group activities
Restrictions on outdoor group activities for participants will be removed.
Fixed capacity limits removed for indoor and outdoor group activities. Protective measures of masks and social distance remain.
From 7th December to 9th January
Maximum 50% capacity at indoor entertainment, cultural, community and sporting events which must be fully seated. (Eg concerts)
However, Sing Ireland has identified the risk mitigation measures that may be necessary and would recommend the below measures be considered by singing groups.
Protective measures may include risk mitigations including masks, social distance, hand hygiene, cleaning, ventilation, one-way systems, information for contact tracing, and the appointment of a risk assessment or covid officer.
A new facet of the latest guidance that groups will need to be aware of if they return to indoor group activities, is they will be required to check vaccine and immunity status as different regulations apply to fully vaccinated/recovered groups and those with mixed immunity. Information on checking vaccine and recovery certs can be found HERE
NOTE: you cannot ask an individual to provide information about their immunity status prior to arriving at an activity due to GDPR regulations. Using the covid cert checker retains no information.
As advised by the The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
"Performers would not be expected to wear a facemask while performing but it is advisable however to keep the front 3 rows empty because of the nature of the activity and the potential for droplet dispersal.
It is recommended performers wear masks when not performing and when moving around the auditorium for example coming on and off the stage."
Some helpful resources around performances and concerts