Covid-19

 

A message to all NSW Bands,

Following the Band Associations of NSW collaborative work with the COVID-19 Response Team at the NSW Health Ministers office, we are reassured that NSW Health and the NSW State Government have a full appreciation of the role that Community Bands play in our local communities, particularly in the areas of mental health support and well-being, and the challenges which community bands are facing in the current environment.

We have been assured that the following advice is issued to provide support to Bands so that we can continue playing and rehearsing in as safe an environment as possible, with as many steps taken as is reasonably possible, to ensure the safety of our members and the wider community.

As such, the following statement is issued from the Minister of Health COVID-19 Policy Team / Public Health Response Branch:

 

“To contextualise our advice, any activity where people may expel a lot of air and possibly fine droplets of saliva, such as coughing, sneezing, singing or playing a wind instrument, has the potential to spread COVID-19. In this way, singing and playing certain instruments may be comparable to coughing.  When people do these things in groups, the likelihood of the virus being present and spread is increased. 

The design of wind instruments, which includes flutes, clarinets, recorders, oboes and bassoons, has the potential to allow droplets to be expelled into the air. In the case of brass instruments such as trumpets, trombones and French horns, the droplets may be more likely to remain inside the instrument.

While we are not aware of an outbreak associated with playing wind instruments, there have been outbreaks associated with choirs and group singing.  

It is strongly recommended that:  

  • If any of the performers have experienced any recent symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fever or runny nose) or have been in contact with anyone known to have COVID-19, they should not participate in a rehearsal or performance. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should be tested immediately for COVID-19, and remain isolated at home until results are available  
  • Given that performing together may increase the risk of transmission, those at increased risk of severe illness (e.g. those with pre-existing medical conditions, older persons) should consider refraining from participating 

In general it is recommended that: 

  • If possible, avoid singing and playing wind instruments, particularly in groups and in indoor or confined spaces. 
  • Persons involved in solo singing or playing woodwind instruments as part of an instrumental group should maintain a physical distance of at least 3 metres from each other, and these performers should avoid pointing the air flow from their instruments towards others, or directly facing others while singing. This may be particularly important for flute players and singers. 
  • A distance of at least 3 metres from the performers should be maintained for any persons in the vicinity of these performers (e.g. conductor, audience, other performers) 
  • All other performers should maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 meters from each other, and always perform good hand hygiene, as well as good hygiene in relation to their instruments. This should include when taking breaks from playing and performing 
  • The number of participants together in one room should be limited where possible. Preference should be given to performing in an outdoor environment if practical 
  • If performing indoors, ensure appropriate ventilation at all times 
  • If wind instruments or solo singers are performing, in addition to physical distancing, it may be prudent to provide physical barriers or tailored ventilation. 

As we continue to learn about COVID-19 transmission, it is preferable to take a precautionary approach to protect the community until further information becomes available.”

 

From our discussions, the above recommended actions should be implemented wherever possible, however, it is understood that not all recommendations will be practical in all situations, and where it is not possible to implement, a range of alternative strategies may be taken to mitigate any known and identified risks.

In order to continue rehearsing or return to rehearsals, ALL bands should have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. See https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/covid-safe-businesses

To further support our NSW Community Bands, the BANSW is offering a consultative service whereby Bands may provide our newly established Covidsafe Guidance Team with their COVID-19 Safety Plan for review as a double check that best practices as we know them are employed where possible. Bands may also contact this team for guidance in establishing their COVID-19 Safety Plan.

BANSW is also setting up a facility either through our website or Facebook page specifically for the sharing of Best Practice Practices. This will be available to Bands for information sharing and will be updated by BANSW with Best Practices from our bands and around the world as we become aware of them.

Through these trying times, it is so important that we continue to work together to keep our communities safe, and this includes continuing to rehearse in a safe environment and BANSW and our community bands are working collaboratively with NSW Health to ensure our bands can continue to rehearse and do what we do in a safe an environment as we can be in.

We sincerely thank the staff at NSW Health for their ongoing support and our colleagues at Create NSW for their hard work in support of our movement. It’s comforting to know that our NSW State Government really does have our backs through these difficult times.

Stay Safe, Stay Sane.

BANSW Management Committee

15/Aug/2020