Covid-19: England Lockdown & UK Update

Covid-19: England Lockdown & UK Update

England will be back in a national lockdown from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December.

While the Government has published initial guidance on what the new restrictions will mean, there remains considerable uncertainty about the implications for musicians. Both the Musicians’ Union and Incorporated Society of Musicians have scrutinised the new Health Protection legislation, and we have summarised their views below.

Please note that this update is provisional on further clarifications which may be issued. Do remember that where activities are permitted, they are subject to the usual Covid-19 principles of distancing and hygiene.

The following guidance refers only to England. Other countries in the UK have different restrictions in place: see the end of this document.

Permitted activities:
• Recording studios can continue to operate.
• Orchestras will be able to rehearse and perform for recording, or broadcast and streaming purposes
• Funerals (maximum 30 people) are permitted. (NB, those ‘working’ do not count towards maximum numbers)
• Churches may open to broadcast acts of worship.
• You can ‘go to work’ if you cannot work from home.
• Visiting/peripatetic music teachers are allowed to teach in schools - teachers should check with their school or employer (e.g. music education hub) in the first instance
Update 11/11/20: In a written answer in Parliament, the Government has clarified that peripatetic teaching in schools may continue, but only when taking place within the school day. This means that out-of-hours teaching in school environments should cease, with lessons only taking place during lesson times or lunch breaks.

Prohibited activities
• No performances in front of a live audience
• No weddings (other than in exceptional circumstances)
• No ‘extra-curricular’ classes/rehearsals, including amateur choirs and orchestras
• No in-person private teaching in your home, a pupil’s home or a studio (i.e. any non-school environment).
Update 11/11/20: Following a meeting with the Department of Education, the MU has confirmed that face-to-face private music teaching may take place in students' homes, but only if there is no other viable option. Wherever possible, therefore, it remains recommended that you teach online. Determining what is viable will depend on your personal circumstances and is down to your individual judgement. Read more at MU website

Grey areas (clarification is being sought on these issues)
• Organists. If professional orchestras can rehearse there seems no reason why professional organists should not also do so. Most organists cannot ‘work from home’, and should therefore be permitted to travel to where they can practise/rehearse/work. Unlike March, it appears that places of worship may be allowed to make their own decisions on whether or not organists can continue to practise. Speak to the venue concerned.
• Broadcast acts of worship. It is unclear whether music will be permitted, or whether this will be left to the discretion of the establishment concerned.
• Organised amateur music-making. Many groups have started rehearsals again under strict Covid-19 protocols, and it is unclear whether or not these can continue.
• Solo live performances outside (or duets, given that you are permitted to ‘meet’ one person from another household outside in a public space, suitably distanced). In the absence of any advice to the contrary, it is assumed that these would be permitted (and if the weather is kind enough).


Full details will not be available until after the parliamentary vote on 4 November, and web pages may not be updated immediately. Please check back regularly with the following sources of information for the most up-to-date guidance.


Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM):

Musicians’ Union (MU):

Church of England. Unlike last March, the Church of England appears to be allowing individual churches some flexibility of action as long as they do not deliberately flout regulations and provided that Covid-19 protocols are followed and a proper risk assessment has been undertaken. It is difficult to be sure, however, as the guidance on their website (as of 4 November) had only been partially updated.

The updates appear to refer only to one specific question on Remembrance Day services (permitted outside, including public singing of the National Anthem and one other item); other FAQs have not been updated since the middle of October (or earlier). The advice on public worship, for example, says it is permitted (it is not) and weddings are also shown as permitted, whereas under the new lockdown rules they are forbidden ‘apart from exceptional circumstances’. This guidance is due to be updated following the parliamentary debate, so please check back website or via Facebook @thechurchofengland or Twitter @churchofengland.

Methodist Church
last updated its guidelines on 13 October.

Roman Catholic Church Information on this website has been updated in response to the latest England lockdown.


Scotland is now operating under a five-tier system of Covid risk.
The Church of Scotland website also carries limited additional information.

Wales is already in the middle of a two-week ‘firebreak’ lockdown which will end on 9 November regardless of the England lockdown. The Church in Wales website also has guidance.
Update 10/11/20: Choirs are now permitted to sing in Welsh churches, with restrictions as detailed at

Northern Ireland introduced stricter regulations for four weeks from 16 October.

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