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COVID-19 Procedures

CURRENT POSITION

The committee has been closely following the latest Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) guidance as interpreted by Making Music.  New restrictions were announced by the Prime Minister on 22nd September and the Making Music guidance was updated as follows:

On 22 September, the DCMS confirmed that although new restrictions have been announced by the government, this will not affect amateur music groups, and they can continue to follow the existing guidance.

The Performing Arts – Working Safely During Coronavirus guidance was updated on 17 September and it explicitly states:

“Confirmed that from 14 September 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 6 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 6 (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising) then such non-professional activity should not take place.” 

The ’sub-groups of no more than 6’ are causing some confusion when related to rehearsals. It is clearer for performances – you should not take a group booking of more than 6, and that group then needs to be socially distanced from the next sub-group.

In rehearsals, however, you should think of your ‘sub-groups’ as sub-groups of 1 attending your rehearsal (unless they are parent/child or partners or flatmates from same household). In other words, every single person in a rehearsal should be socially distanced at all times from every single other person in a rehearsal – and during breaks, arrival, departure and bathroom queue.

In light of this, the committee has agreed that as long as we can comply with the performing arts guidance we should plan a limited return to rehearsals for those members who feel safe to do so.  

The purpose of this document is to provide members with our Risk Assessment and to outline our plans for a limited return to rehearsals.  It will be updated every time new Government Guidance is issued.

Click here to view our COVID Risk Assessment

PLAN FOR RETURN TO REHEARSALS

Our usual venue, Aylesbury Music Centre, will not be used for the Autumn 2020 term. This is because the number of players is limited to 18 and we cannot get into the hall in good time on a Wednesday night due to cleaning after the previous group. We have agreed to use the Community Hall at the Aylesbury Methodist Church, Buckingham St, Aylesbury as an alternative venue as it can accommodate up to 35 players and the conductor safely and has no other groups in before 7pm on a Wednesday evening, giving us time to set up.

A limited number of consumables such as gloves, disinfectant wipes or spray and other cleaning materials will be provided by the orchestra for use by the volunteers who set up and re-set the room.  Also, hand gel for one or more hand sanitisations station at the entrance to the venue/room will be provided but members are requested to bring their own where possible.  Members will be required to bring a face mask and any other wipes etc. they may require for their own use.

A message will be sent to members explaining in detail what measures we are putting in place and our plan for resuming rehearsals.  The message will request that members carry out their own personal Risk Assessment based on this information and decide whether they wish to return yet or not.  It is important that we do not unintentionally make anyone feel excluded, but only they can know their own individual level of vulnerability.  The message will inform members that a register of attendees will be kept for track and trace purposes.

We will put the following measures in place for our initial return to rehearsals, but then constantly monitor the situation and relax any measures that we feel are appropriate or add more as the situation changes and according to guidance from Government and Making Music.  

PREPARATION

  • The Methodist Church have completed their own risk assessment to make the venue Covid secure and we will provide a copy of our own risk assessment to them for approval before the first meeting. 
  • The room was measured and chairs set out 2m apart, and it was confirmed that there would be enough space for up to 35 people plus the conductor.
  • We will use volunteers each week to arrive early but only 2 or 3 so that they can maintain distancing, to:
    • Prop open doors and open windows to create ventilation and remove the need for people to touch door handles.
    • Put out signage so that people know where to stand if they need to queue to get into the hall, and where to queue for toilets
    • Put out a warning notice outside with a checklist of restrictions (see below).
    • Clean and set out chairs for players (using hard chairs where possible).
  • Members attending rehearsals must complete the Rehearsal Register on the website at least four hours before the rehearsal starts so that the volunteers can complete a seating plan in time for arrival. The Rehearsal Register will also act as our own attendance register for the purpose of the NHS Test & Trace programme.
  • Members will be required to download and print their music from the IMSLP website or as directed by the Conductor/Committee and bring to rehearsal for their sole use.

ARRIVAL

  • Players should arrive individually or with members of their own household only. People from different households should not share cars.
  • If a number arrive at the same time, they must queue with 2 metres between them following the signage provided.
  • One of the volunteers will control the door and only allow people in when space allows, maintaining a 2m distance where possible.
  • For string players, we will provide a seating plan that will be available to view in the entrance.
  • Players should bring their own music stand, music, face mask, hand gel or wipes and their own liquid refreshment. Food will not be permitted in the venue.
  • On a notice outside the door there will be a check list that players should read and consider before entering.  If any of the following apply to them, they should not enter:
    • Those in high risk groups
    • Anyone who has been in contact with someone with symptoms of Covid-19 in the previous 5-6 days
    • Anyone who has symptoms
    • Anyone with a temperature above 37.5C
  • Maintaining at least 2 metre distancing, they should set up their own music stand and music and then stay in that area and not move around the room.
  • String players will not share parts as they usually do but have their own stand and part.
  • Large instrument cases should be left at the side of the room, smaller cases should be kept with the player at their seat.
  • A register of attendees will be kept for track and trace purposes.  Contact details for all members are already held. A volunteer will check the register against attendees
  • Members are encouraged to use the NHS QR Code on display at the entrance

REHEARSING

  • Players should wear face masks whilst playing unless they are a wind or brass player or are exempt from wearing a face mask according to current government guidelines.
  • Brass players must bring a cloth or other receptacle to catch condensation from their instrument and take it away with them.
  • Horn players must practice more frequent hand washing/wiping as they play with their hand inside the instrument where there is greater potential for infected moisture from condensation.
  • The rehearsal shall last for 60 minutes only, the room will be kept ventilated with all doors and windows open.
  • There will be no special arrangements for cleaning of toilet facilities between users, so members must be prepared to bring their own hand gel and disinfectant wipes to be able to clean door handles and toilet seats etc. to their own satisfaction should they need to use these facilities.
  • The toilets have more than one cubicle in the same room but we we will set up a system restricting the whole room to single use, with only one person at a time allowed inside the room.

LEAVING

  • This would be a reversal of the plan for arriving.  Players must pack up their own equipment and leave as directed to do so by the volunteers inside the venue, maintaining distance and wearing a mask.
  • Volunteers will remain behind to wipe down and put away the chairs.
  • Volunteers will wipe down door handles on leaving the building

 

PLAN FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS

The ASO Committee is jointly responsible for producing, reviewing, and implementing the ASO COVID-19 Procedures. The Committee includes the conductor and leader of the orchestra.

Whilst Government guidance around performing arts remains in place the Committee will;

  • Monitor government guidance on local lockdowns and restrictions
  • Monitor the Making Music website and news for relevant updates
  • Liaise regularly between each other using the WhatsApp group
  • Hold regular online meetings to discuss arrangements
  • Communicate regularly with members

 

PLAN FOR VOLUNTEERS

The Committee will lead the arrangements for rehearsing safely but additional volunteers are needed to share the workload.

At each rehearsal, the volunteers will

  • Arrive 30 minutes before rehearsal starts
  • Put out signage in the entrance and corridors
  • Set out the chairs in the hall, ensuring they are spaced at least 2 metres apart, with a 3-metre distance from the conductor
  • Wipe down the chairs with sanitiser wipes
  • Write up a seating plan for strings based on the Rehearsal Register and display it in the entrance hall
  • Supervise the arrival of players, ensuring that people do not mingle and stay 2m apart where possible
  • Tell people arriving how to safely get to their seat
  • Make sure people keep their face coverings on when moving around the venue
  • Check that string players keep their face masks on while playing