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"The Fun Orchestra" Blog

Stay on top of the latest news, events, and announcements from the North Downs Community Orchestra.

COVID-19 Precautions for 2022

The NDCO takes COVID-19 seriously and has put in place precautions to minimise transmission.

We want to keep everyone as safe and healthy as we possibly can, so that you can enjoy our rehearsals and events without worry. Throughout the pandemic, we have followed government and Making Music guidance. We appreciate how all of our members have been incredibly supportive and compliant so far.

These precautions are under constant review and updated to reflect current guidelines and regulations.

Hands, Face, Space, Let the Fresh Air In.

Our overall goal is to stop COVID-19 and the Omicron variant arriving at our rehearsals, and if it does somehow, then to stop it being transmitted.

Before Rehearsals

  • Lateral flow tests In light of the new Omicron variant, we are asking all rehearsal and event attendees to do a lateral flow test within 24 hours of the event. Unfortunately, the "recovery pass" exemption is no longer applicable as people who have had Delta can still catch Omicron.

  • Booking in to rehearsals We are continuing to require all rehearsal and event attendees to book in advance and agree to COVID guidelines as well as provide contact information for NHS Track and Trace.

At Rehearsals

  • Layout and social distancing We are maintaining a 2m spacing between players, and are actively assessing venue size depending on turnout. 3m for the conductor and flutes without wind shields. Conductors will use a voice amp.

  • Ventilation We actively assess and choose venues based on available ventilation and heating, and keep the necessary number of windows and doors open to let fresh air into the space throughout rehearsal (with heating and our players' comfort in mind.) We also use the mid-rehearsal break to fully ventilate the space.

  • CO2 monitor We now have a portable CO2 monitor. It’s a good quality, free standing, battery operated model recommended by Making Music. The advice is that the CO2 level should be kept below 800 – 850 ppm for "fresh air" indoors. Once higher levels are detected a little alarm goes off and the green light moves to amber. At this point we’ll open more doors or windows until it returns to green.

  • Face coverings and instrument coverings As of January 2022, we are encouraging string and percussion players to return to wearing masks whilst playing as long as they can. Wind players are asked to use bell covers if they can manage them, and flutes are asked to use wind shields. Wind players are also asked to keep their floor area clean and dry. Masks should be worn by everyone when not playing.

  • Hand sanitiser On entry to the venue and before touching shared things like music packs.

  • Length of sessions Until October 2021, we only rehearsed for 1 hour. This was to avoid aerosol and droplet build up inside a venue. We are now back to 2 hour rehearsals with a tea and ventilation break, but are actively assessing the situation to see if we need to revert back to 1 hour.

  • Tea break mid-rehearsal We use the tea break between the first and second hour of rehearsal to ventilate the rehearsal space. For the tea break, all attendees are asked to bring their own mugs if they would like to use the hot water, tea bags, kitchen area on a DIY, at-your-own-risk basis.

  • Sheet music NDCO supplies members with paper sheet music. However, during the pandemic, we have been asking members to print their own. This is still under review, and we are making steps toward providing members with paper sheet music via individual wallets. We ask everyone to use hand sanitiser before touching any sheet music packs.

Remote Rehearsals

  • Zoom rehearsals We are still providing the option to attend rehearsals via Zoom. We figure it is better than nothing for those unable to attend because of illness or risk of illness. Unfortunately, our present video and data set-up doesn’t always give a great experience, so we are not charging for Zoom rehearsal attendance. As of January 2022, we will continue to offer Zoom attendance and would like to ask those expecting to attend by Zoom to book in as they would in person but note during registration they will attend remotely.

Thank you to all our members who have been and continue to be supportive of our COVID-19 procedures and precautions. The NDCO committee are continuing to review risk assessments, venue requirements, and have our members' health and well-being as our primary concern.

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If you are looking to join a fun, welcoming group of musicians, get in touch. We would love to meet you at our next rehearsal!

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