DCMS reduces social distancing requirement for singers in light of study

25 August 2020

Government guidance has been updated to allow singers to be closer together in light of a study that found singing carried no more risk than talking in the transmission of Covid-19.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has amended the previous three-metre social distancing rule. It now states that two-metre social distancing is encouraged for singers and wind and brass musicians wherever possible.

Where this is not possible, performers can continue with ‘one-metre-plus’ mitigations to limit the risk of transmission, which include using back-to-back or side-to-side positioning and regular Covid-19 testing.

Previously, singers were required to observe extended social distancing of three metres, whereas non-singing performers could be two metres apart.

A statement from the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre said: “We welcome the very significant findings from these recent scientific studies – they enable all activities to take place under the same risk-controlled conditions, and in particular mean that singing no longer has special restrictions on it.”

This guidance does not affect the distancing requirements for audiences, which is currently two metres between households or support bubbles.

The update to the singing guidelines follows the preliminary findings of a study, supported by DCMS, which looked at the amount of aerosols and droplets generated by a group of 25 professional performers when they were singing and speaking.

Researchers found there was a steep rise in the number of droplets expelled with an increase in volume, but that singing “does not produce very substantially more aerosol” than speaking at a similar volume.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Singing and playing music are passions for many people who will welcome the findings of this important study, which shows that there are no heightened risks associated with these activities.

“This means people can get back to performing, another important step showing we are here for culture through Covid-19.

“We have worked closely with medical experts throughout this crisis to develop our understanding of the virus, and our guidance is updated in light of these findings.”

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