COVID Update 11 Dec 20 – Advice on carolling

Hi everyone,

We are delighted to finally be able to say that bands are allowed to play again!  Please see below for page 30 from the recently published document “In the Bubble of our Making: Reopening the Arts in Northern Ireland”.  The full document can be found here In-the-Bubble-of-Our-Making-Reopening-the-Arts-in-Northern-Ireland-July-2020.pdf (

We have been in contact with Brass Bands England who have very kindly given us permission to use any of their documents and information.  This means over the weekend we will be making the necessary changes to the fantastic risk assessments that they have published to make them fully applicable to Northern Ireland.  We will also to our best to get any brass band specific advice out to you as quickly as possible.  

With that in mind and it being the Christmas carolling season, please see below for some guidance on how to safely get out playing in the community:

  • Limit the number of people involved as far as possible (the red Salvation Army carol books used by many are deliberately written so that only 4 parts are required – see the front of the book).
  • No sharing of stands, music, instruments or mouth pieces.  Each individual should bring their own equipment along with a towel and waterproof bag to collect any “water”.
  • Maintain 2m social distancing. You should maintain social distancing between groups or households at all times.  Players should play back-to-back or side-to-side positioning (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
  • Consider the case for performing (or not) given the wider health context of your area with particular regard if vulnerable individuals are involved (remember attendance is not compulsory and it is up to each individual whether they are happy to play or not).
  • Getting there – people should not give lifts to anyone outside of their household or bubble

In addition, we advise anyone collecting money not to handle the collection for 72 hours after and to use gloves when doing so to avoid the risk of transmission (the gloves should be binned or washed immediately after handling any money). We also recommend taking steps to show the public that safety is taken seriously by demonstrating measures taken such as use of bell covers which, whilst not necessary outdoors, can have a positive impact on public perception. We also recommend that you use floor marking to help manage spacing between players and also the general public. 

As many of you will know, the BBL have been campaigning for many months for brass bands to be able to get back to rehearsals.  We would like to thank the Department of Communities, especially John Ball for all his help with this.  Thanks as well go to the Salvation Army who we are delighted to have been able to partner with any campaign together over the last few weeks.  Thanks go to Brass Bands England who have been giving us their support and advice too. We would also like to thank all the MLAs who helped put our case forward for us along with Carla Lockhart (MP).  We also owe a big thank you to a certain member of our own brass band community who would like to remain nameless for all his help these last few months.  We hope that all the positive relationships we have built up over this time continue on well into the future.

And finally as I always end my emails – if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!  We will hopefully get more information out to you over the weekend.

In the Bubble of Our Making – Reopening the Arts in Northern Ireland