Choirs, raise your (masked) voices: vocals, wind instruments get the green light – with caveats

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Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who enjoy singing and playing certain instruments can once again come together and make their music heard – albeit quietly, and with a long list of restrictions to follow.

The provincial government issued guidelines for group singing and wind instruments Thursday morning, giving the green light to musical activities considered to pose a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Rules govern the size of these gatherings and the location of people in the room or area, and emphasize mask wear and ventilation.

The number of instrumentalists or singers is capped at 100 or less, and is only permitted for community organizations, faith-based communities, and schools or educational institutions.

All sessions should be one hour or less, with a maximum singing or playing time of half an hour.

Since public health restrictions began to ease, choirs have detailed how the pandemic has shaken their communities and rehearsals, though some groups are still trying to meet by video conference.

Mandatory masks

Anyone in a choir or singing group should wear a mask, even when singing, and the guidelines ask people to “consider singing in smaller groups and at lower volumes in the room. wherever possible”.

Wind musicians must wear a mask when moving in space, but are not required to do so when playing their instrument.

The province recommends that instrumentalists use a combination of acrylic partitions, physical distancing, and outfit their instruments with bell covers – similar to a face shield for instrument openings.

Everyone should sing or play in the same direction.

The Shallaway Youth Choir, seen here performing in 2019, hosted rehearsals online. (Grand Prix Seghizzi / Facebook)

Ventilation will be the key

The new regulations describe a myriad of ways to increase airflow in all spaces used for singing and playing. Between these sessions, the rules require that a time be allocated to allow “two exchanges / rotations of air” depending on the location.

If this information is not available, sessions should be spaced one hour apart. The rules also recommend at least half an hour between sessions, regardless of ventilation, to allow for cleaning and disinfection.

Among many other cleaning rules, the province is also asking people not to share sheet music and to make other arrangements instead, such as using a tablet or printing out necessary instructions before arrival.

As of Wednesday, there had been no new cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador for four consecutive days. There are two active cases, both related to international travel.

Read more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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