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When can we expect to be able to sing hymns as a congregation ? Do any of you have any indication yet ?

I can sit in a stuffy aeroplane for hours, work up a sweat at the gym, have a meal in a restaurant but not sing in church.

Advice from the diocese, months out of date, is that we are still unable sing and that they are "hopeful for a further update at June 21st".

In the meantime there is very little being done to help us recover from the decline in numbers. Being able to sing would be a significant step forward.

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GIven the farce this week over how many may sing, socially-distanced, in an amateur choir, don't expect any news soon [1]

 

[1] After lockdown 1, you could reasonably have any number in your choir, dependent on local risk assessment. After lockdown 3 (from Easter Sunday) this was pretty much the same situation. However, the government decided to p155 everybody off by changing the rules without notice to be a fixed amount of 6 singers just the other day, to much disgust across the amateur singing land. In other words, just as the rules were relaxing as per the roadmap, they decided to tighten the rules just for amateur singers. Buffoonery at its finest.

Interestingly, there is no fixed limit for professional singers which on the face of it is inconsistent to say the least.

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The amateur choir I'm in is singing in the car park for the first part of each rehearsal, followed by a sectional (which happens to be six singers, the allowed limit) inside when it's getting darker. 

Paul

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12 hours ago, mrbouffant said:

However, the government decided to p155 everybody off by changing the rules without notice to be a fixed amount of 6 singers just the other day, to much disgust across the amateur singing land. In other words, just as the rules were relaxing as per the roadmap, they decided to tighten the rules just for amateur singers. Buffoonery at its finest.


The composer Lord Berkeley had something to say about this to the House of Lords last Tuesday (starting from 19:04:20 in the link):
https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/7ef38a00-f644-4567-bb19-090a97b48563?fbclid=IwAR2XSEj0O18VA6hq9KiKHhP0CYyhzY52rueThXWhn7IqViToVQbMbTqQWuU

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Let's not forget that the current "Rule of 6" and its predecessors are GUIDANCE, not law.
Law means "must". Guidance means "should". This difference is made very clear in other documents from HMG.

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8 minutes ago, DHM said:

Let's not forget that the current "Rule of 6" and its predecessors are GUIDANCE, not law.
Law means "must". Guidance means "should". This difference is made very clear in other documents from HMG.

Guidance is there for people's safety - in theory, anyway.  Throughout this pandemic people have been ignoring governmental safety advice when they find it inconvenient.  Nothing new there.  But the issue here is: why is the government treating amateur singers and professionals differently?  What is the logic? I can guess, but had better not do so here.

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6 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Why is the government treating amateur singers and professionals differently?

Presumably to safeguard the professionals' income, whereas "amateurs" have no income to lose.
There is no other logical explanation. 

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7 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Guidance is there for people's safety - in theory, anyway.  Throughout this pandemic people have been ignoring governmental safety advice when they find it inconvenient.  Nothing new there.  But the issue here is: why is the government treating amateur singers and professionals differently?  What is the logic? I can guess, but had better not do so here.

I might suggest that professional singers could reasonably be requested to perform lateral flow tests to inform their Covid status in a way similar to other professions. Amateurs not so.

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12 hours ago, DHM said:

Let's not forget that the current "Rule of 6" and its predecessors are GUIDANCE, not law.
Law means "must". Guidance means "should". This difference is made very clear in other documents from HMG.

That would be a good everyday distinction between ‘compulsory’ and ‘desirable but optional’.  Unfortunately, and it has exercised better legal minds than mine, some of HMG’s guidance as published in ‘user friendly’ form hasn’t accurately reflected actual legislation, the ‘Rule of 6’ being a case in point.  I’m not talking about the amateur/ professional singers divide, on which I’m ignorant, but the ‘predecessors’ were most definitely not optional!  The Coronavirus legislation introduced the confusing fact that some guidance was mandatory (there’s even an explanatory note in the legislation to that effect) while other guidance remained only guidance!  Not at all helpful to the man in the street.  

I doubt that anyone will want to explore all of the murky details, but here is just one example from the vast raft of Coronavirus legislation which deals with the ‘Rule of 6’ in Schedule 3 “Participation in gatherings” and may be worth a glance to get some idea how these things are done:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2021/364/contents/made

 

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Although the limit to 6 singers is guidance, legally any organiser is required to have "taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of coronavirus, taking into account ... any guidance issued by the government which is relevant to the gathering."

So although not a 'must', you could still get into trouble for not following it if you were not taking other control measures to mitigate the risk.

Cathedrals and other places with acres of space can have more than 6 people so long as they follow other distancing precautions. For churches like mine, where space is at a premium, the rule of 6 remains a significant blocker to the resumption of the full choir.

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It took a year for the Archbishop of Canterbury to admit that the CoE had not done things well during the first lock-down, specifically locking the churches.

I am of the clear opinion that senior clergy should be pushing for congregational singing to be allowed. It is of concern that key personnel in my diocese do not plan to do anything for at least a further four weeks.

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11 hours ago, Choir Man said:

Although the limit to 6 singers is guidance  ... (etc.)

I’m afraid that’s not wholly correct.  In my view the government is culpable in not making ‘guidance’ crystal clear where it must be complied with as legislation.  Here is the rather feeble preamble to the latest guidance: “This guidance is of a general nature and should be treated as a guide. In the event of any conflict between any applicable legislation (including the health and safety legislation) and this guidance, the applicable legislation shall prevail.”  In the light of that, it is positively misleading for HMG to offer the explanations of ‘must’ and ‘should’ and fail to identify clearly what is mandatory.  

In my post above yours I linked The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 dated 29th March.  These are the relevant exact words from Schedule 3:

“1.—(1)    No person may participate in a gathering in the Step 3 area which—

(a)   consists of more than six people, and

(b)   takes place indoors.”

The complexities about professional singers involve further delving in later legislation: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps and Other Provisions) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, effective from 17th May. (Note ‘Amendment’.)  They are far from clear and not easy reading, involving cross-referencing with earlier legislation without re-stating it in comprehensible form.  But this is how much of our legislation is framed.

Those of us who have been shielding for most of the last 12 months have received emails and letters from HMG (eight pages were usual) with similarly vexing ‘advice’ in conjunction with ‘guidance’.

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On 20/05/2021 at 23:19, Vox Humana said:

Guidance is there for people's safety - in theory, anyway.  Throughout this pandemic people have been ignoring governmental safety advice when they find it inconvenient.

Probably fair comment, but people can sometimes be excused for misunderstanding HMG’s failure to explain differences between what is mandatory or advisory (it doesn’t use either of those terms).  A solicitor friend of mine has been grappling with these issues since the original 2020 Coronavirus legislation and the mountain of subsequent statutory instruments, finding inconsistencies in the separate ‘guidance’ documents.   

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Signed.  It's been "interesting" to see the crowds at recent football matches singing heartily.

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On 24/05/2021 at 12:21, Achilles 3201 said:

It took a year for the Archbishop of Canterbury to admit that the CoE had not done things well during the first lock-down, specifically locking the churches.

I am of the clear opinion that senior clergy should be pushing for congregational singing to be allowed. It is of concern that key personnel in my diocese do not plan to do anything for at least a further four weeks.

The truth is the church doesn't have a leg to stand on, after the unseemly rush to declare itself unessential when this all kicked off.

Through all of this the focus has been petty managerialism and pointless virtue signalling, never a thought to Christian witness. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised when the captain of the ship is a Woke Oil Barron who couldn't lead water out of a colander. 

It's depressing enough for an agnostic like me to see the church ritually disembowel itself, pity the true believers - getting choirs going again is going to be the least of our problems.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 26/05/2021 at 03:57, Achilles 3201 said:

Please can I urge forum members to sign this Government petition :

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/586559

Having signed the petition I received the government's reply.

It notes that "that singing can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission through the spread of aerosol droplets."

It then goes on to say "the limits do not apply to activity taking place for work or commercial activity."

In other words you can take the risk of spreading COVID if you are doing it for money but not if you are doing it for pleasure.  That is about as bizarre as it gets.

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7 minutes ago, bam said:

In other words you can take the risk of spreading COVID if you are doing it for money but not if you are doing it for pleasure.  That is about as bizarre as it gets.

Not really, though it does sound bizarre if you phrase it that way.

Normal risk management deems different levels of risk tolerable depending on circumstances, and that approach applies whether you’re dealing with and epidemic or anything else.

In this case a higher level of risk is deemed acceptable when it’s a matter of earning a living (with the caveat that measures must be put in place to “mitigate” that risk).

That judgement may or may not be correct, but it’s not illogical.

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Although logical, I still don't get how a well organised choir taking precautionary measures is to be avoided. Yet you can freely congregate in larger numbers and sing to support your football team?

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Well, that’s the trouble with modern risk management methods. The theory all sounds fine on the training course and in the boardroom, but when it meets reality it starts throwing up all sorts of anomalies (some of which may even turn out to be highly dangerous despite being “approved” by the process).

 

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Various news media and Facebook friends have reported this weekend that congregational singing is now permitted (as of yesterday) in the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, and in the US state and Diocese of Rhode Island.

The dam is beginning to break - at least in other places, if not yet here. 
What do their scientists know, that ours don't? Or are their governments simply being less cautious and risk-averse than ours?

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I heard the most raucous football crowd “singing” on the radio news this evening. So unfair. I’m sure there is less risk in matins but probably fewer votes and less chance of civil disobedience.

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Presumably the distinction isn’t between singing at sporting events (allowed) and between congregational singing (forbidden), but between outdoors and indoors.

I haven’t checked the English regulations but here in Wales outdoor singing is allowed and we have thus had congregational singing locally at open air services (even in the rain!). Now the weather is better I have wondered about suggesting that congregations that want to sing meet to sing two or three appropriate hymns outside the church before or after the service (rather as the Elizabethan Injunctions envisaged the use of metrical psalms - for those who like historical precedents ….)

 

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