Why the petition is still important
Updated: Jun 9
There are less than two weeks now until the suggested date of the lifting of Covid restrictions, 21st June. And while speculation remains as to whether the full lifting of lockdown restrictions will actually take place then or later, it remains the case that the levels of restrictions for non-professional choirs are still a step behind other comparable activities.
The phrase ‘comparable’ is used in relation to activities that are likely to create as many as, if not more aerosol, than singing. So much has been written about pubs and restaurants with loud music and more crowded environments being just as likely to create the same sort of volume of aerosol indoors as singing. Sports fans have returned to the arenas, and with them the chanting that is synonymous with watching sports. Indeed, gyms are open, with attendees breathing in relation to their physical exertion.
The petition has been active for over three weeks and the brakes have hit. It is easy to speculate as to why, from campaign fatigue, spanning the best part of a year, to reaching singers that either feel anxious or do not follow such things on social media. However, the important thing now is to remind the world about why this matters, and why, despite thousands of people receiving similar responses, writing to MPs is also so important.
As one of the few activities still prohibited openly, it is likely that any stalling of the relaxation of restrictions will hit what is currently still prohibited first. In addition to this, the deafening silence that has been the response to the simple question regarding the evidence cited by Oliver Dowden in Parliament continues to cause concern as to the longevity of the current restrictions. We also know that the DCMS is regularly late with guidance for choirs, and that choirs have been stung more than once with guidance that was different from that which had been expected. Remember all those choirs that started rehearsing in good faith on Monday 17th May?
Whatever the ‘new science’ is, there were no outbreaks of Covid-19 in a choral setting in the Autumn of 2020. This was due to diligent risk assessing and strong mitigations on the part of choir leaders and committees. The same mitigations would still give a multiplier of zero, however more transmissible the ‘Delta’ variant may be. Many singers have also now been vaccinated and Lateral Flow Tests are pretty much a part of every day life for many.
There remains little logical argument to prevent non-professional singers from returning fully to their activity. The pros of health and well-being, social interaction and personal expression in a time when these have been hard to come by surely outweighs the ever decreasing risks of the pandemic.
So the campaign continues. Share the petition as widely as you can, and remind the people you share it with that this is not just about singing from 21st June, this has potentially indefinite implications on when this vital activity can return in all its glory to our lives, and properly!