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Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the performing arts and venues sector

Guidance for the performing arts and venues sector on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the performing arts and venues sector
Operational guide for non-professionals gathering for performing arts activities

Operational guide for non-professionals gathering for performing arts activities

Non-professionals are defined as those participating in the performing arts other than for work purposes, such as in an amateur choir, orchestra, theatre or music group. Activities may include training, rehearsals, practice and performance.

In order to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, non-professionals must at all times undertake their activities in line with government legislation, particularly in relation to the number of individuals or households meeting together (protection levels: what you can do), or under guidance for organised non-professional performing arts activity for adults currently permitted in their local authority area, according to its protection level on the strategic framework – see non-professionals section in Where we are for more informationOrganised non-professional performing arts activity for adults (indoors or outdoors) should be managed by an organisation - including a business, charity or club.

Capacity for non-professional performing arts activities for adults should be calculated based on ensuring the required physical distancing between participants/households and between organisers/leaders and support staff/volunteers and participants/households, and in accordance with the guidance and maximum numbers for events set out in the guidance on calculating physical distancing capacity in public settings. Organisers have a duty to ensure compliance with the required physical distancing (including when arriving at or leaving activity or in any breaks or socialising), hygiene measures, capacity limits and this and other relevant guidance, including events guidance for any outdoor activity.

For any activity with an audience present, non-professionals must follow the same guidance in relation to a public performance as professional performing artists / organisations included in this document as well as the calculating physical distancing capacity guidance and, where applicable (including outdoor performances), the events guidance. As provided for by the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 23) Regulations 2021, for venues which can accommodate larger audiences, event planners / venue operators may apply to their local authority for exceptions to the standard attendance limits however the required physical distancing must remain in place. The stadia and live events guidance for event organisers sets out further details about the process to consider higher capacities.

Organisers should undertake the same risk assessment processes as referenced in this guidance for professional organisations, including member/participant representatives in those processes.

Organisers should only proceed with their activity if they can comply with the requirements specified in legislation and in this and other relevant guidance, including events guidance where relevant. As each activity setting is different it is for individual organisers / organisations to work with representatives to determine how best to apply this guidance in their circumstances.

Steps that will usually be needed:

Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment.

Where and when non-professional performing arts activity is permitted, non-professionals should follow all relevant operational guidance provided for professional performing arts organisations as well as that provided for non-professionals.

Keep a record of name, date, time and a mobile number or email address for all participants for a period of 21 days to support Test and Protect. Further information is available in the guidance for Test and Protect – collection of customer and visitor contact details.

Make sure that participants do not attend or take part in activities if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or when advised to self-isolate.

Observe the required physical distancing between each participant/household and between participants/households and any others attending, such as conductors, accompanists or audiences (where permitted) at all times

When seated the required distance should be measured from the edge of a performer’s chair

Use back-to-back or side-to-side positioning of performers (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible

Limit the duration of rehearsals, and performances where permitted, as much as possible

Avoid exposure of crew, support staff, other performers and audiences (where permitted), through using alternative programmes, technology or adapting, re-arranging or re-orchestrating for fewer participants as the first priority

Consider using screens or barriers in addition to physical distancing

A fixed team approach is not recommended for non-professionals.

Determine what level of monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms or for COVID-19 is required to achieve as reasonable a level of risk mitigation as possible.

Ensure there is a clear policy in place for managing a COVID-19 positive individual, and abiding by government and HPS guidelines and reporting requirements – see COVID-19 symptoms within the workplace.


First published: 10 Nov 2020 Last updated: 23 Jul 2021 -