The Scottish Federation of Organists





Coronavirus COVID-19

At the commencement of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in early 2020 all the Scottish organists' societies affiliated to the SFO cancelled all face-to-face meetings.

Thus, no face-to-face regular or committee/council/trustee meetings are taking place at present.  Both the Edinburgh Society of Organists and the Glasgow Society of Organists are planning on-line meetings in October and November 2020 and the Glasgow Society has been structuring a 2020-21 syllabus that would allow meetings to be re-configured into face-to-face meetings should the COVID-19 situation allow.  This hope now seems unlikely.

Advice and Instructions from the Scottish Government

With effect from 15th July 2020, the Scottish Government sanctioned the resumption  of communal services of prayer and contemplation in churches limited to 50 people with social distancing, no singing or chanting, and a mandatory COVID-19 risk assessment plus strict health and safety precautions.

Also, with effect from Wednesday 15th July 2020 attendances at weddings, funerals and civil partnership ceremonies are limited to a total of 20 people.

From Sunday 4th October 2020, and only in certain circumstances with strict health and safety controls, some singing and wind and brass playing may resume, provided additional mitigations and safeguards are in place.  This activity should only be carried out in line with the Scottish Government performing arts guidance.  (Do please be sure to click on this link to view these current Scottish Government regulations.  Different rules apply for professional and non-professional performers and what is and is not permitted depends on whether the activity is taking place indoors or outdoors.)  Where it is essential to an act of worship for an individual to sing or chant indoors, one individual may sing or chant behind a plexi-glass screen without the need for a face covering to be worn.  (If you are in any doubt about the legality or advisability of any proposed singing during services then the decision must be that the activity must not take place.)  Any screen used should be cleaned regularly and extended physical distancing should be considered.

Other instruments that do not require breath to operate may be played (for example, church organs). Communal instruments should be cleaned regularly.

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On 22nd September the Scottish Government decreed that visiting other households is no longer permitted.

From Monday 14th September social gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, were restricted to 6 people from up to 2 households.  On Tuesday 22nd September this 6 people/2 household indoor/outdoor permission was legally restricted to public places only, not in private homes.

The regulations imposed on the whole of Scotland from Wednesday 23rd September 2020 as amended from 6.00pm Friday 9th October include:

Inside peopleís homes:

    Do not meet people from any other households in your home or another personís home socially, unless they are in your extended household.
    These rules also apply to children.
    Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes, as can non-cohabiting couples.
    Exemptions apply to childcare, tradespeople and non-cohabiting couples.

Private gardens or public outdoors spaces:

    A maximum of six people from two households can meet in outdoor spaces.
    You should limit as far as possible the total number of households you meet in a day.  (Under-12s do not count towards the maximum number of households or number of people who can meet outdoors.  Under-12s do not have to physically distance.)   A maximum of six 12 to 17 year olds can meet in outdoor spaces, with no household limit. Physical distancing is still required.

Indoors in public spaces:

    A maximum of six people from two households can meet in public indoor spaces such as cafes, pubs and restaurants, but see next paragraph.
    Children under 12 from those two households do not count towards the limits.
    Up to a total of 50 people can meet in churches for worship with no singing or chanting and observing the mandatory COVID-19 risk assessment rules, social distancing and strict health and safety precautions.  Attendances at weddings, funerals and civil partnership ceremonies are limited to a total of 20 people.

Hospitality:

    Pubs, restaurants and all hospitality settings were legally required to close at 10pm from 23rd September.

    From 6.00pm on Friday 9th October all pubs and licensed restaurants in the following Health Board areas must close for 16 days: Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, Forth Valley; although food takeaways will be permitted.  Cafes which donít have an alcohol license will be able to stay open until 6.00pm to support social isolation.

    With the exception of the five health board areas above, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in the rest of Scotland will be able to operate indoors on a restricted basis only:

    During the day, from 6am to 6pm, for the service of food and non-alcoholic drinks only

    Hotel restaurants will be able to operate beyond 6pm, but only for residents and without alcohol

    All the current regulations and the limits on meeting a maximum of six people from two households will still apply

    Bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can continue to serve alcohol outdoors only up to 10pm and subject to the 6/2 rule on group size.  No "drinking-up" time after 10pm is allowed, all customers must leave the premises and the premises must be closed by the 10pm deadline.

    There will be an exemption to these rules - in all parts of Scotland - for celebrations associated with specific life events such as weddings that are already booked and funerals.

    20th October 2020, these measures are set to be replaced with a new tiered system of alert levels on Monday 26th October which would trigger restrictions either locally or nationally.  The First Minister is to hold talks with her cabinet about the hospitality industry on Wednesday 21st October.  She said she wanted to "get to a system with more clarity".

Car sharing:

    You should only car share with members of your own or extended household or if you are a non-cohabiting couple, following the Scottish Government's safety guidance when there is no alternative.

Working

    You must continue to work from home where practicable.

Travel

   From 6.00pm on Friday 9th October people living in the five Central Belt health board areas are being asked to avoid public transport unless it is absolutely necessary.

    People living in Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley should not travel outside the health board area they live in unless absolutely have to.  People in other parts of Scotland should not travel to these areas if they donít need to.

    20th October 2020, these measures are set to be replaced with a new tiered system of alert levels on Monday 26th October which would trigger restrictions either locally or nationally.  The First Minister is to hold talks with her cabinet about the hospitality industry on Wednesday 21st October.  She said she wanted to "get to a system with more clarity".

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The above restrictions will be reviewed by the Scottish Government every 3 weeks but in mid-September the UK Prime Minister expressed the opinion in the Westminster Parliament that similar restrictions will probably remain in force for at least six months until at least the end of March 2021.

Given that many of our members are in the more senior age group and may have underlying health issues, quite a high proportion are in the "shielding" category of the population.  Even although shielding was paused by the Scottish Government on 1st August all people in this category should excercise extreme caution and only take part in activities when they feel it is legal, safe and wise to do so.

The following charts will be of use to all - not only to "shielding" members but to all others as well.  Thanks are due to the Scottish Government for producing these charts.

You will note that meeting people indoors and contact with people you do not live with are still classed as being high risk activities.  Please be aware that if you decide to attend any event you do so at your own risk.

Page updated 20th October 2020