Choir 'desperately disappointed' at ban on rehearsals

Cantamas Choir, who will be performing at Cromer's Pavilion Theatre as part of this year's Coast Cho

Cantamas Choir, who will be performing at Cromer's Pavilion Theatre as part of this year's Coast Choirfest. - Credit: Archant

Members of a community choir have been left "desperately disappointed" at newly-issued guidance from the government meaning their "lockdown" will continue until at least June. 

Nigel Roberts, chairman of the Sheringham-based Cantamus choir, said the rules limiting "non-professional singing" indoors to groups of six people should be reviewed.

Mr Roberts said: “We are desperately disappointed that this new guidance has been issued and singles out amateur singing from other performing arts in such an arbitrary way.

"Of course we understand the need to maintain public safety, but we are not aware of any evidence to suggest that singing is any more risky than for example indoor sports activities or other performing arts, which are allowed.

"We urge the government to think again, to allow Covid-secure indoor rehearsals to take place”.

It had been expected indoor performing arts activities would be allowed to resume from May 17 in line with the roadmap, but on May 18 the Department of Culture, Media and Sport issued new guidance limiting non-professional singing indoors to groups of six.

The department's guidance says: "Singing, shouting and physical activity increase the risk of transmission through small droplets and aerosols.

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"If singing does take place, steps should be taken to reduce the risk of transmission, including limiting the number of people participating and increasing ventilation. The cumulative effect of aerosol transmission means the more people involved, the higher the risk of transmission." 

Philp Adams, the choir’s music director, said rehearsals were "carefully structured" so that rules around social distancing and stopping the spread of coronavirus could be followed. 

Mr Adams said: "Although they are not simply a social activity, the degree of personal wellbeing that choir members can derive from singing is well proven through research."

The final step of the lockdown easing is scheduled to take effect on June 21, although the government has said a final decision on this would not be made until the week of June 14, amid rising concern over the spread of new variants of coronavirus.

If it were to go ahead as planned all limits of social distancing would be lifted, meaning the choir could resume its rehearsals. 

Cantamus' rehearsals are usually held at St Joseph’s Church Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday evenings.