Update: Dealing with aerosol droplets

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Taking a few precautions when demonstrating, teaching, and performing on brass and woodwind instruments can help to mitigate COVID-19 related risks without severely curtailing activities.

Although UK COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed on 19th July, the Government website makes it clear that the virus “….will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future…” and that managing risks is essential.  

In America, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) have been working in coalition on a study of the potential risks posed by aerosol droplets emitted when playing brass and woodwind instruments.  

In a web discussion on 27th August, chaired by Mark Spede (CBDNA) and James Weaver (NFHS), the following key recommendations were made:

  • Use bell covers on instruments to capture aerosol particles. Several manufacturers who are MIA members produce suitable covers;
  • Ensure good ventilation to enable higher air change rates in areas where playing is taking place;
  • Adopt sensible timings for playing activity, with 15 minutes being recommended in most average rooms.

The video and a link to the full report can be found at https://www.nfhs.org/articles/unprecedented-international-coalition-led-by-performing-arts-organizations-to-commission-covid-19-study/

Much of this is common sense and it is likely that you already have mitigations in place, but it pays for us all to be vigilant and to take measured precautions now to avoid further problems in the future.