Choir 'saddened and angry' by 'unfair' rules preventing rehearsals
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
A Suffolk choir has voiced its frustrations at the government over "unfair" Covid-19 guidelines leaving them unable to rehearse and perform indoors.
The 400-strong Pop Chorus choir, split into eight different groups, has not been able to consistently rehearse or perform since autumn – with changing government guidance creating anger and confusion among the singing community.
Under the latest rules, amateur choirs are only able to meet indoors under the rule of six, or 30 outdoors.
Meanwhile, professional singers can sing indoors with an audience 1,000 people or 50% of a site or venue’s capacity (whichever is lower).
The government insists rules are guided by science.
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The choir, founded in Framlingham, had booked indoor sessions for after restrictions were eased this month under the belief they would be allowed to go-ahead, although were informed at short notice they would be breaking lockdown restrictions.
It has held outdoor rehearsals since, although the cold and wet spring has made for difficult conditions for the group.
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Choir founder Yula Andrews, who as a professional singer is allowed to perform on her own, said she feels the government are letting people down.
Yula said: "If it is unsafe for amateurs to sing, then surely it isn't safe for professionals either. The only difference between them is that my singers don't make any money.
"I'm not exaggerating or being melodramatic when I say that our choir is a lifeline for some people, especially those who are living alone.
"We've had our singers wrapped up in blankets looking like the Michelin man, that is how much singing means to them.
"It just shouldn't have to be this way."
The group enforces strict social distancing and mask protocols to help ensure its singers are safe, with Yula adding the group was able to perform safely and effectively when outdoor sports were allowed to return last year.
Group member Rose Branaghan said the restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for those in the group experiencing loneliness.
She said: "As far as I am aware there haven't been any infections among choir singers locally.
"I suffer with anxiety, but when I'm standing there and singing with the choir, I feel like I'm in a totally different world. It is just the most amazing feeling.
"The choir means everything to me."
Should the government roadmap go to plan, the group will be allowed to return to normal service from June 21, although Yula said she fears that may not be the case.
Yula added: "There are no guarantees that things will change from June 21 – I just can't see how it will go from a maximum of six people indoors to having no restrictions at all.
"I've lost all trust in the government, to be honest."