Type of post: Barbershop news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Phil Gill
Status: Current
Date Posted: Wed, 5 Jan 2022

Welcome back! I hope that you have all had a pleasant Christmas and a happy new year.

We are gearing up for our 2022 rehearsal programme starting on Tuesday 11th January, and Sunday 16th January for Horizon.  Our aim is to give members as much opportunity as possible to prepare for exciting events including a show in March and Convention in April.  This is only possible if we introduce a number of additional safety measures designed to address the new challenges presented by Omicron. 

What are the risks?

The impacts of Covid have been widely reported over the past 2 years.  Various safety measures have been employed by Hallmark to manage risks since we resumed singing together.  Whilst it is good that there have been no Covid outbreaks linked to Hallmark rehearsals or shows to date, the continuing risk was brought into sharp focus in October 2021 when a member of Cowbridge Male Voice Choir in Wales died in a Covid outbreak after their 50th Anniversary Concert.  

The arrival of the Omicron variant appears to have changed the situation in two main ways:-
  1. It is much more transmissible than previous variants. The requirements for self-isolation are causing labour shortages in key sectors.
  2. Disease caused by Omicron is generally less severe than other Covid variants.
Exec has agreed a modified package of measures (see below) to allow rehearsals to resume whilst providing a degree of assurance that risk of infection has been reduced as much as practicable.  Of course, even with these measures in place, it is impossible to remove risk entirely. It is therefore a personal choice for members whether to attend rehearsals in person. 

Frank Grasso has prepared a very helpful risk management plan containing a review of relevant research into Covid and infection control measures which you can access

What the club is doing

We will:
  1. require all members to be double vaccinated and to have had a booster to attend chorus, unless they are not yet eligible to receive one (e.g. if they have recently recovered from Covid)
  2. continue to monitor CO2 levels at rehearsal venues, and take action if there is evidence that poor ventilation is increasing risk
  3. suspend use of risers to allow singers to stand at minimum 2 metre spacings
  4. require all members to complete a lateral flow test in the 12 hours before each rehearsal, and not attend if it is positive; we also advise/request members to take at least one other lateral flow test per week.
  5. provide a short demo by a medical practitioner on correct method for performing a lateral flow test. The aim is to help improve the reliability of the tests.
  6. require members to wear a suitable face covering (e.g. singer’s mask) at rehearsals, with the exception of the MD, and provide such masks on request to anyone who has not yet received one
  7. require members not to attend rehearsals if they have any cold- or flu-like symptoms
We will also continue to provide Zoom coverage of rehearsals to help anyone unable to attend (e.g. if they are self-isolating) to keep on track.  Exec will monitor information about Covid and the effectiveness of safety measures, and will change our approach as and when needed. 

Your Pre-Rehearsal Check List
  1. Ensure you get a third (booster) Covid jab as soon as it is offered to you
  2. send evidence of your vaccination status to Shirley Course.  You should do this by downloading and sending a pdf copy of your Covid Pass for travel (unlike the domestic pass, this includes details of your individual vaccinations) either from the NHS App or NHS website (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/get-digital-covid-pass/)
  3. Take a lateral flow test in the 12 hours before each rehearsal, and register the result via   https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result. This will generate a text and/or email which you will need to show on arrival at the rehearsal venue.  Lateral flow tests may be ordered on-line (https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests) or obtained from chemist shops (subject to availability).
  4. Bring and wear a suitable face covering at rehearsals.  A singer’s mask is preferable as it allows better vocal production than other masks.  In any case, masks should fit well, be looped over the ears, and made of multiple layers of filtering material. 
  5. If you have not yet received a singer’s mask from the club but would like one, please message Phil Gill.  There are a few spare masks available, and more are on order. 
  6. Stay away from rehearsals and performances if you have any of the following common symptoms of Covid:- 
    • Runny nose
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Sneezing
    • Sore throat
    • Persistent cough
    • Fever
    • Loss of taste and/or smell
Please help us to keep moving forward by following the above steps so we can deliver rehearsals over coming weeks as safely as possible.