Hedge End Choir ‘frustrated’ by new Covid guidance

Government says singing indoors is dangerous for amateurs but ok for professionals

Hedge End’s New Music Makers when they still allowed to sing together indoors.

Members of a Hedge End Choir say they are disappointed and frustrated by new guidance issued by the government which prohibits amateur singers from performing or rehearsing indoors in groups of more than six while professional groups have been exempted from any restriction – a move the Choir’s Chair has described as ‘discrimination’

Like many choirs across the country the NMM singers had been looking forward to the relaxation of lockdown rules on Monday 17 May believing that they would be able to see and hear each other for the first time since the pandemic struck. Since lockdown was imposed the choir has been forced to rehearse via zoom calls and members were excited at the prospect of  meeting each other face to face once again,

But on Tuesday (18 May) the Department of Digital Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) issued new guidance which ruled that although professional singing groups are free to rehearse with any number of participants amateurs are limited to no more than six people indoors or thirty people outside.

The Chair of New Music Makers Lin Kellaway told Eastleigh News:

“Choir members are disappointed and frustrated that after weeks of working on a comprehensive risk assessment complying with all of the guidelines to start rehearsing together has been dashed by the late ‘rule of six’ that has been applied.

We are also confused that professional singers can rehearse; how can this discrimination be justified.?

If it is dangerous to sing even with all of the precautions in place then surely it should apply to all singers, professional, amateur and even those singing to support their football team.

Our choir are desperate to get back together, 2020 should have been our 50th celebrations and our members just want to get back to doing what they love most – singing together”.

A leading Ear, Nose and Throat specialist who has recently conducted research into aerosol transmission has challenged the DCMS to publish the ‘clear public health guidance’ that they say has informed their decision to place restrictions on amateur singing.

Declan Costello has written to the DCMS Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden saying:

“As far as I am aware there has been no new research that demonstrates any additional dangers of singing…given that the vaccination programme is progressing well and given that hospital admission continue to fall its seems puzzling that we are facing tighter limitations than last year – particularly in activity of singing”

Despite this setback the choir say are still working – within government guidelines – towards performing concerts with a live audience hopefully by the end of the year.