Culture secretary

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says performers can return to the stage ‘without further social distancing’

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said performers no longer needed to have ‘additional social distancing’ on stage following the results of a new study.

As first shown on the BBCthe study supported by the government and Public Health England looked at the amount of aerosols and droplets generated by performers singing on stage.

A team of collaborative researchers from the University of Bristol, Imperial College London and Royal Brompton Hospital analyzed the amount of aerosols produced by singers with varying sounds, volumes and pitches.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, found that singing did not produce “substantially more respiratory particles than speaking at a similar volume” in a study involving 25 participants in a controlled environment.

In response to the results, Dowden said, “I know singing is an important passion and hobby for many people, who I’m sure will join me in welcoming the results of this important study.

“We have worked closely with medical experts throughout this crisis to develop our understanding of Covid-19, and we have now updated our advice in light of these findings so people can start playing together again. safely.”

Dowden later described the study as a “milestone [in] recover performance,” via his Twitter account.

He added: “A medical study commissioned and funded by the government shows that singing is no more risky than speaking…

“So we can get performers back on stage without additional social distancing – 3m becomes 1m with dimmings.”

Dowden went on to explain that social distancing guidelines for the performing arts “have now changed and are effective immediately.” NME contacted Dowden’s office for further clarification.

Crowds enjoy the live music (Picture: Getty)

One of the study’s authors, Jonathan Reid, who is a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Bristol, told the BBC: ‘Our research has provided a rigorous scientific basis for the Covid-19 recommendations for artistic venues operate safely, for both the performers and the public, by ensuring that spaces are properly ventilated to reduce the risk of airborne transmission.

Dr Rupert Beale of the Francis Crick Institute, added: ‘This important research suggests that there is no specific excess risk of transmission from singing. However, both loud lyrics and singing carry undue risk. This research supports the possibility of safe performance as long as there is proper social distancing and ventilation.

However, Dr Julian Tang, Honorary Associate Professor of Respiratory Sciences at the University of Leicester, shared some concerns about the study.

Tang said, “The risk is amplified when a group of singers sing together, [for example] sing in front of an audience, whether in churches, concert halls or theatres. It’s a nice study but not exactly representative of the actual dynamics of the whole choir, which really needs further study to really assess the risk of synchronized singing vocalizations/exhalations at such a high volume.

“The risks should not be too underestimated or minimized because of this – we don’t want choir members to become infected and potentially dead from Covid-19 while doing what they love.”

Last month more than 1,500 artists and industry figures came together to call on the government to stop ‘catastrophic damage’ to live music amid the COVID-19 pandemic at the campaign launch. #LetTheMusicPlay. After months of campaigning from fans and the music world, the UK government has revealed plans for an unprecedented £1.57 billion cash injection to help the arts, culture and music industries. heritage to survive the impact of coronavirus-induced closures – providing music venues, independent cinemas, museums, galleries, theaters and heritage sites with grants and emergency loans.

Earlier this month (August 4), music industry figures added more volume to the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign to demand that the government share funding for the arts to protect the future live team, the musicians and people working behind the scenes.

Head here to donate to the Save Our Venues campaign, where artists are also encouraged to register to participate in online fundraising concerts.