It seemed, at least, that the way was now open for a reasonably “normal” Christmas, as far as the Christmas carol concerts were concerned. But then the new government restrictions were announced on December 8, and immediately these depressing “canceled” advisories started popping up, suggesting that once again we were ready for a silent Christmas.
Take a closer look, however, and it becomes clear that there is in fact no free fall. Most churches and other organizations have decided to persevere because, as Hugh Morris, principal of the Royal School of Church Music, explains, they have learned to cope. “If you look at who cancels, it’s often institutions with vulnerable populations like hospitals and nursing homes,” he says. “There is actually no ban on singing without a mask, as long as it is what the government calls ‘reasonably necessary.’
“So choirs singing in church is fine,” he continues, “but if you want to get down to singing on the top desk of a bus without a mask, you better not. Churches avoid the instinctive impulses of cancellation and find judicious ways to keep the spectacle on the road.
“There are two key issues, ventilation and density of people, and the first of these is frankly fairly easy to organize in churches. Right now it’s a good thing [that] most of them are big and full of drafts. And the other thing is to avoid a crush of people, because when there are more than 500 people in a place, you could enter the area of Covid passports, which is difficult for a parish church to manage. You can do this by making it a paid event, with a limited number of tickets. ”