Please Note: SLNA is a peer-led voluntary organisation, we are not heath care or legal professionals. We continually refer to the latest information from authoritative sources such as the NZ Government Covid-19 website,and Ministry of Health.
Covid-19 risk assessments to enable community singing.
Article updated: 7th October 2020
As a Network our aim is to share knowledge and ideas with our membership, and this article sets out to look at the subject of risks associated with Covid-19 and community singing.
Some of our members have been working on preparing risk analysis and risk mitigation plans for their singing groups. These plans are designed to be flexible in dealing with changing alert levels, and their purpose is to enable the continuation of meeting to sing together for as long as possible.
So, what is a risk analysis and risk mitigation plan?
Quite a mouthful, isn’t it? Well basically it is just a covid safety plan for your choir.
Risk analysis helps you work out the risks that might make singing together unsafe, and the mitigation plan helps you put into action some agreed steps so you can…
Like everything worth doing in life there will always be some risk, but a well communicated plan ensures everyone knows what’s what and can make their own decision about what they need to feel safe.
When should we just stop singing together?
At alert Levels 3 and 4 the current advice from NZ Govt means we should not sing together.
When can we sing together?
At alert levels 2 and 1 there’s no legal restriction on meeting together in groups of less than 100. However, research indicates that singing together poses a considerable risk of viral transmission which can have severe consequences, especially to the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. We’ll list links to more information about this at the end.
Even at alert level 1 we should not become complacent. Some steps to minimise risk to singers might still be needed, and we should be prepared to move back to higher alert levels. “Hope for the best, plan for the worst” as they say.
This is where a risk analysis can really be valuable because it can help you determine the unique risk profile of your choir and then set up appropriate measures for everyone’s health and safety.
Why bother we’re basically back to normal anyway?
Whether they are saying so or not many members of our choirs are likely to be unsure about returning to singing. They’ve heard all the ‘super-spreader’ stories, but they’re unlikely to be able to make a decision based on the latest specialised research. They’ll be weighing up the risk, and looking to see if it’s a safe space.
"Fear is an irrational response arising from the failure to evaluate actual risk. Responses arising through fear are almost certain to be more risk-averse than they need be." (ABCD Guidance on Risk Assessment)
By preparing a safety plan we are letting our choir members know we care and we are helping them to be more confident about coming to choir. A safety plan will also give the choir as a whole more confident that they can host performances whilst keeping the singers and the audience safe.
Preparing a safety plan does not remove individual responsibility: one person (or a committee) can’t carry the weight of deciding for everyone if this is a safe thing to do. What we can do is to identify the risks, put systems in place that minimise the risks, tell them what risks remain, then support them to make their own decision about participating or not. Once you’ve done the initial assessment and put controls in place, it becomes much more manageable to keep up to date with new research, guidelines or government directives, and to review risks and control measures on a regular basis as the situation develops.