For the Attention of all Band Secretaries of the RSPBA Pipe Bands based in Scotland
For your information, those local MSP's that you requested to write to Parliament on your behalf, regarding the provision of guidance on the resumption of pipe band practices, received a response from Fiona Hyslop MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture. The key message within the response is detailed below.
"We recognise the important role that all forms of musical activity play in the wellbeing and mental health of so many people across the country, and the pleasure that it brings. The Scottish Government is committed to doing everything we can to ensure our world-class culture sector can continue to thrive and to help it navigate these difficult times. Our amateur music organisations, and the talented individuals who work with them are an essential part of the fabric of Scotland's culture and communities and promote our international reputation, and we are determined that they will survive and be able to thrive again.
As we navigate our way through the pandemic, we are considering the impact of different phases of lockdown across venues and activities. Details of reopening and restarting of different sectors will continue to be guided by the route map and will be announced in due course. We don't want restrictions to remain in place any longer than is necessary to protect against the spread of the virus.
Sector-led guidance for the Performing Arts and Venues Sector in Scotland (https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-performing-arts-and-venues-sector/pages/people-involved-in-performing-producing-designing-and-supporting-events/) is relevant for both professionals and non-professionals, and looks at rehearsals, pre-production and performance (with and without a live audience). It is overarching in nature; as each organisation or workplace is different, it is for individual organisations and practitioners to work with trade union, workforce or volunteer representatives to determine how best to apply any guidance in their particular circumstances.
The guidance was published on 21 August and will be reviewed and updated regularly, It includes the following section which may be of interest to Pipe Band Societies: Non-professional musicians who are participating in an organised outdoor activity managed by an organisation - including a business, charity or club - can, from 24th August, meet outdoors. Organisers have a duty to ensure compliance with 2 metre physical distancing, hygiene measures and this and other relevant guidance, and to undertake the same risk assessment processes as referenced in this guidance for professional organisations, including member/participant representatives in those processes.
The guidance has recently been updated in light of more recent scientific advice, which has included the removal of the need for additional mitigations such as extended physical distancing but also emphasises the need to address the overall risk of virus transmission, pay attention to mitigations such as 2 metre physical distancing, good ventilation, and limiting the duration of activity. The guidance now treats wind and brass players in the same way as other musicians in this respect. Please refer to the updated guidance for current advice and mitigations. https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-the-performing-arts-and-venues-sector/
With regards to the resumption of indoor practice I appreciate what you say about the winter season arriving. Currently, professional band players only may rehearse indoors, following the performing arts guidance. As you will be aware, as we have eased out of lockdown we have seen an increase in cases of Covid-19. In light of this, some steps we have taken have had to be reversed, some scheduled changes paused and some additional restrictions set out - especially on social gatherings - as part of our efforts to keep the Covid-19 pandemic under control into the autumn.
The issue of bringing numbers of people together is a challenge as we continue to prioritise safety and the suppression of the virus. Most recently from 23 September this has entailed a new restriction on any household visits, with very limited exceptions, and this restriction will necessarily apply to non-professional musicians meeting indoors. We will continue to keep the situation under review constantly with public health advisors."