Bands and orchestras can gather together


Brass bands, orchestras and every other large group of 30 or more people are still unable to get together to rehearse.


Brass bands and orchestras can now rehearse in England. Gatherings of up to 30 people, including musicians, are allowed anywhere in England unless there is a specific prohibition. Under the new law in place from 4th July 2020, those prohibitions include (read through these quickly then come back again):

  • private dwellings (reg. 5(1))
  • public outdoor places which are not operated by (or part of premises used for operation of) a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body as a visitor attraction, (reg. 5(1) and reg. 5(2))
  • raves indoors (reg. 5(4))

Exceptions to the above are made, broadly, for gatherings

  • for elite sportspersons
  • necessary for work, charitable purposes, education and childcare
  • reasonably necessary for purposes of education or training
  • in such public outdoor places where both (a) a written health and safety risk assessment has been undertaken and (b) all reasonable measures have been taken to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus taking account of government guidance*
In practice… bands can practise and perform

‘Private dwelling’ is partially defined but essentially would mean private living accommodation i.e. homes. It also extends to any ‘outhouse or appurtenance of the dwelling’.  It specifically does not include hotels etc.

It will be observed, thereby, that there is no restriction on gatherings of more than 30 people in

  • pubs, restaurants and hotels
  • churches and local halls
  • clubs, hotel ballrooms are other venues while they cease to provide their venue for dancing (schedule 1, paragraph 2)
  • conference centres and exhibition halls provided they are not being used to host conferences, exhibitions or trade shows (schedule 1, paragraph 17)
  • theatres and cinemas (notably no longer in schedule 1 and, a surprise to us all, now not prohibited from opening their doors)

It is therefore permissible to have a band of 31 or more musicians rehearse and perform indoors in any of such places if only they can persuade the venue owner to let them in. Readers of other posts on this site will appreciate already that there is also no general legal obligation on anyone to follow any social distancing guidance indoors or on the way to the venue. (Also see this post on social distancing.)

Strange as it may seem, the same band cannot play outdoors unless they drop their numbers to 30 or less or (a) they operate as [a charity or a business etc.] and (b) a written risk assessment has been undertaken and (c) government guidance on social distancing is observed.

*Note this is a new and unusual requirement in the England regulations. The legal requirement to ‘take account’ of guidance (as opposed to the Wales regulations requirement to ‘have regard to’ (heaven help us all!) does not pervade other activities in the UK. Further, this is not the normal purpose of a risk assessment more commonly required under health and safety regulations. It is the health and safety risk assessment that takes as its starting point that there is a significant danger from coronavirus which is the biggest barrier to gathering and to a return to normality. We will be posting on that soon. Please follow us on social media.

Wales Welsh Flag Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

In Wales, it is different. Wales’ Cory Band have dominated the the brass band world across the globe for over a decade. They might consider travelling to England to rehearse to keep their top spot. See our previous article explaining why.

The main UK legislation website does not, at time of this post and unlike the regulations for England, show within the principle regulations how they have been amended, but amended they were on 7 July and a document of sorts has been provided by the Wales Assembly Government. Initial observations are to see significant additional protections being added in Wales but we will consider this further in due course.



Warning: Law and circumstances can change very quickly.  Please note the date of publication of any blog post and check for any updates on the issues addressed. In any event, we do not condone or encourage breaching the law and neither the above nor any information posted on this website constitutes legal advice. It must not be relied upon as such and specialist legal advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances. Please read our disclaimer.

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4 thoughts on “Bands and orchestras can gather together”

  1. A hobby I have is Church bell ringing, but it does look as if that may be off limits for the moment as the Church currently seems to mandate 2m, and if we applied this we could only ring 2 (out of 8) bells.

    I take the view that we could ring all 8 provided (a) CofE remove the 2m and(b) my ringing colleagues are comfortable to ring.

    The problem with ringing is that there are a large number of 65+ aged ringers which is a further complication.

    As at today the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers suggest that we ring only for service, and that a max of 4 ringers/bells, while observing social distancing and for a max period of 15 minutes.These strictures make the hobby almost impossible, however ‘new’ guidance is apparently to be issued in the next few days.

    As of course you are aware the big challenge at present is to impress upon friends/colleagues etc that guidance and law are very different animals, and once people realise they are not necessarily breaking the law then they might start to emerge from behind their sofas, but only if they can overcome their irrational fear (in my view).

  2. Beverly Elizabeth Cerexhe-Dickens

    We are a 16 piece amateur big band , and are told we cannot practice yet by the government.

    The information above contradicts all previous information we are given ?

    Many thanks.

    1. You are welcome, but there is no law against performing as well. Indoors as well as outdoors. Read the risk assessment post as well.

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