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Orchestras | FIM Recommendations for a safe return to work

Empty concert hall Download the FIM Recommendations in PDF

I. Preamble

1. The covid-​19 out­break has led gov­ern­ments to close all live per­for­mance venues and pro­hib­it open-​air con­certs as soon as their coun­tries were hit by the pan­dem­ic. Three months lat­er, these mea­sures have brought the music sec­tor to its knees. Where finan­cial sup­port has been made avail­able for musi­cians, orches­tras or ensem­bles, it is gen­er­al­ly lim­it­ed in size, scope and dura­tion. In many cas­es, musi­cians are not eli­gi­ble to any support.

2. There is a com­mon desire of musi­cians, employ­ers and audi­ences to re-​open con­cert halls as soon as pos­si­ble, to allow the artis­tic activ­i­ty to resume. Depending on the nation­al sit­u­a­tion, such re-​opening may be grad­u­al­ly per­mit­ted as the pan­dem­ic starts to recede, but it requires the adop­tion, imple­men­ta­tion and enforce­ment of ade­quate safe­ty mea­sures in order to pro­tect musi­cians against the risks aris­ing from pos­si­ble expo­sure to the sars-​cov‑2 as they return to work.

3. The pur­pose of this doc­u­ment is to
– raise the aware­ness of music pro­fes­sion­als regard­ing the risks of infec­tion that are specif­i­cal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with music per­for­mance, and
– pro­mote gen­er­al prin­ci­ples and rec­om­men­da­tions on how to address these risks, with the high­est lev­el of pro­tec­tion of work­ers in mind.

II. General recommendations

4. Acceptability and effi­cien­cy of safe­ty mea­sures rely on con­fi­dence. To ensure rea­son­able con­fi­dence, such mea­sures should be clear, under­stand­able, doc­u­ment­ed and con­sis­tent across ter­ri­to­ries and venues.

5. Where the lev­el of risk can­not be accu­rate­ly assessed or med­ical experts express diverg­ing views, the most con­ser­v­a­tive option should be favoured. The best exam­ple prob­a­bly is the risk of con­t­a­m­i­na­tion via aerosols, for which lim­it­ed doc­u­men­ta­tion is avail­able. One appro­pri­ate response to this risk is to max­imise dis­tanc­ing and wear facemasks.

6. Should a work­er have doubts about the lev­el of safe­ty offered at the work­place or the lev­el of risk when trav­el­ling to the work­place, he/​she should, by default, be exempt­ed from any work obligation.

III. Adoption of safe­ty procedures

7. Safety pro­ce­dures and infor­ma­tion about such pro­ce­dures must be in place before musi­cians return to work.

8. Safety pro­ce­dures should be based on an inde­pen­dent, med­ical and sci­en­tif­ic assess­ment of risks.

9. If there is doubt or lim­it­ed sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus, the safest pro­tec­tion mea­sures should apply.

10. No safe­ty pro­ce­dure should be adopt­ed, pub­lished or imple­ment­ed with­out pri­or con­sul­ta­tion and dia­logue with rep­re­sen­ta­tive trade unions.

IV. Aspects of expo­sure to risk

Avoiding con­tact with poten­tial­ly infect­ed persons

11. Musicians with one or more symp­toms of infec­tion (based on avail­able med­ical infor­ma­tion) should be exempt­ed from attend­ing any rehearsal or per­for­mance. Stricter mea­sures (such as sys­tem­at­ic fever detec­tion) should be con­sid­ered with cau­tion as they may con­flict with the con­fi­den­tial­i­ty of per­son­al med­ical data.

12. Distancing: the dis­tance between two indi­vid­u­als must always be above a min­i­mum thresh­old. During rehearsals or per­for­mances, an addi­tion­al mar­gin may be nec­es­sary as musi­cians tend to move nat­u­ral­ly when play­ing. Marks on the floor may help visu­alise dis­tances more eas­i­ly. As min­i­mum dis­tance tends to vary from coun­try to coun­try and to avoid sus­pi­cion or doubts, it is rec­om­mend­ed to opt for the most con­ser­v­a­tive option (the largest dis­tance). Consequently, two musi­cians should not share the same music stand.

13. The sur­face and vol­ume of a room deter­mine the max­i­mum num­ber of indi­vid­u­als that can be present in the room at the same time. The deter­mi­na­tion of this num­ber depends on min­i­mum dis­tanc­ing (see para. 12) and oth­er para­me­ters linked to the cir­cu­la­tion of air in the room (see para. 19). It should be trans­par­ent and eas­i­ly ver­i­fi­able. The char­ac­ter­is­tics of air cir­cu­la­tion in the room have an impact on how it may be used for rehearsals or concerts.

14. When a room needs to be accessed by sev­er­al indi­vid­u­als at the same time, it is rec­om­mend­ed to use a sep­a­rate entrance and exit. Such a mea­sure is best enforced via con­trol at both entrance and exit. It may ren­der access to green rooms or bath­rooms impos­si­ble as these rooms are gen­er­al­ly equipped with one sin­gle door.

15. Green rooms and bath­rooms present addi­tion­al dif­fi­cul­ties like nar­row spaces or the need for very fre­quent sani­ti­sa­tion. If access to the green room can­not be grant­ed, solu­tions should be iden­ti­fied for the safe stor­age of instru­ments cas­es, clothes and oth­er per­son­al belong­ings (which also are poten­tial virus car­ri­ers). If access to bath­rooms can­not be grant­ed, the length of rehearsals and con­certs must be limited.

16. One-​way paths should be used to cir­cu­late through nar­row areas, to facil­i­tate com­pli­ance with min­i­mum dis­tanc­ing. Clear sig­nage (floor, walls) must be in place before the venue reopens.

Avoiding con­tact with poten­tial­ly con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed objects

17. Hydro-​alcoholic solu­tion dis­pensers must be avail­able in suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ty at the entrance and in oth­er parts of the building.

18. Door han­dles, music stands, chairs etc. are poten­tial virus car­ri­ers and must be sani­tised with ade­quate prod­ucts on a reg­u­lar basis. In par­tic­u­lar, sani­ti­sa­tion of stands and chairs must be car­ried out every time they are to be used by a dif­fer­ent musician. 

Avoiding inhala­tion of poten­tial­ly con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed aerosols

19. The cir­cu­la­tion, renew­al and fil­ter­ing of air inside build­ings dif­fer from venue to venue. Each case is dif­fer­ent and should, there­fore, be sub­ject to a spe­cif­ic assess­ment before the venue is re-​opened to musi­cians and the public.

20. It is rec­om­mend­ed to wear face­masks inside buildings.

21. An ordi­nary face­mask does not ade­quate­ly pro­tect against the inhala­tion of con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed aerosols. Its max­i­mum effi­cien­cy is reached only if 100% of the per­sons present in the same room wear it.

22. Facemasks are not com­pat­i­ble with the play­ing of wind instru­ments. In this instance, they should be replaced by shields or oth­er pro­tec­tion devices offer­ing a com­pa­ra­ble lev­el of pro­tec­tion, as advised by inde­pen­dent med­ical or sci­en­tif­ic experts.

V. Open-​air performances

23. Open-​air per­for­mances may entail less risk than in-​door per­for­mances as far as aerosols are con­cerned. However, sev­er­al aspects still need to be care­ful­ly addressed, e.g.: safe trav­el­ling to the per­for­mance loca­tion, ade­quate dis­tanc­ing, safe stor­age of instru­ment cas­es and per­son­al effects, han­dling and sani­tis­ing of chairs and music stands, safe access to bath­rooms (or lim­it­ed dura­tion of per­for­mances), audience-​related issues as well as more com­mon prob­lems aris­ing from expo­sure to unpre­dictable weath­er con­di­tions (tem­per­a­ture, humid­i­ty, wind, rain…).

VI. Establish and main­tain con­fi­dence between social partners

24. Musicians unions and employ­ers share the same desire to return to work as soon as pos­si­ble, but there may at times be diverg­ing views on the assess­ment of what is actu­al­ly “pos­si­ble”. While some employ­ers may be inclined to min­imise cer­tain risks, trade unions have a duty to do every­thing they can to ensure the high­est lev­el of pro­tec­tion for the work­ers they rep­re­sent. They have a legit­i­mate role to play in this respect, which is recog­nised by ILO con­ven­tion 155. No deci­sion or rec­om­men­da­tion with a poten­tial impact on the health and safe­ty of work­ers should, there­fore, be tak­en or pro­mul­gat­ed with­out pri­or nego­ti­a­tion with their rep­re­sen­ta­tive trade unions.

VII. Recommended sources of med­ical information

Risikoeinschätzung ein­er Coronavirus-​Infektion im Bereich Musik, May 19th, 2020 (Universitäts Klinikum Freiburg, Freiburger Institut für Musikermedizin): Download in PDF

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