Published on May 18th, 2021 by gavin

BBE confirms DCMS guidance for brass bands

Brass Bands England (BBE) has been working in conjunction with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to confirm that, from 17 May, brass bands can return to both rehearsing and performing when social distancing is in place. This is in line with Stage 3 of the planned recovery ‘roadmap’ previously announced.

The team at BBE will be running two free information sessions to answer your questions directly, one at 5.30pm on Tuesday 18 May and the second at 6.30pm on Wednesday 19 May on Zoom. You can sign up to either or both sessions at These sessions are open to everyone to attend, including non-members of BBE.

The guidance follows the requirements set out in the autumn, and bands operating under these will need to make no additional changes to their plans. 

The performing arts guidance ( published on Tuesday 18 May makes it clear that non-professional activity can resume both inside and outside, although participants must remain in groups within the legal gathering limits of 6 indoors and 30 outdoors. However, there is an exemption to allow multiple permitted groups to occupy the same facilities and be directed by a single individual. It is important not to let these permitted groups mix either on arrival, during or when leaving the planned activity. BBE recommends treating each member as a single group of one to help ensure that no unnecessary mixing takes place. This process is the same as in the previously published risk assessments.  

The requirements still require those engaging in non-professional activity not to do anything that compromises social distancing and put in place all possible measures to mitigate risks; otherwise the activity should not take place. This includes the use of barriers or other mitigations such as bell covers, which may be more cost effective and easier to manage. Before undertaking non-professional performing arts activity, you should consider the case for proceeding (or not) based especially on the risk involved in the activity and location, and the number and health of participants, particularly if vulnerable individuals are involved. All activity should take place outdoors wherever this is possible. 

If you are planning a rehearsal, you can find BBEs guidance and example risk assessments on our web page This guidance will be updated shortly to reflect these changes, but in the meantime the guidance and risk assessments are again now valid. The following risk assessments are available:

1. Small group (up to six players) rehearsing outdoors

2. Small group (up to two households) rehearsing indoors or outdoors

3. Large group (more than six players) rehearsing outdoors

4. Large group (more than six players) rehearsing indoors

BBE would like to highlight the following key requirements that need to be included in your risk assessments and mitigated against: 

·         A face covering must be used at all times when not playing. This includes percussion while playing and conductors (who may choose to use a visor for visibility of their face).

·         Move outdoors where possible. 

·         If indoors, ensure that rooms are ventilated by keeping windows and doors open. This may mean you need to remind members to arrive with suitable clothing as being cold does not remove this requirement.

·         The requirements for social distancing must be observed. Bands can use the relevant BBE risk assessment as a starting point for their risk assessment. These have been designed to maintain distances between all participants during the activity, which makes them suitable for use in all tiers.

·         Consider the case for performing (or not) given the wider health context of your area with particular regard if vulnerable individuals are involved.

·         If you do plan to proceed, you should limit the number of performers as far as possible, which must be in line with the rest of the performing arts guidance.

·         Due to aerosol transmission it is important to limit the total number of individuals involved as much as possible.

·         Social distancing should be maintained at 2m. In particular, non-professionals should not engage in activities that may lead to social distancing being compromised. 

·         Additional requirements laid out, including the use of screens, are covered within the BBE risk assessments issued previously. 


Events permitted in Step 3 (which include live performances) should follow all COVID-secure guidance, adhere to all legal requirements and take all reasonable action to mitigate risk to public health.

There are capacity caps which apply to both indoor events (up to 1,000 people or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lower) and outdoor events (up to 4,000 people or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lower). Different capacity caps apply to larger venues and events.

If you are planning a performance, BBE has produced an additional risk assessment, which should be used in addition to the relevant rehearsal activity risk assessment. This is also available at

Next stages 

Stage 4, no earlier than 21 June, will enable large events to take place, including theatre performances, above the Step 3 capacity restrictions, subject to the outcome of the Events Research Programme and potentially using testing to reduce the risk of infection, subject to further evaluation.

Further information

BBE will continue to update its guidance as regulations are updated and information on resuming activities, including example risk assessments, can be found at We thank NewMoon Insurance Services for their sponsorship of the BBE Covid advice through support of the Brass Band Emergency fund. Anyone wishing to support the fund can do so here and bands wishing to apply for support from the fund should contact BBE on [email protected]

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