Exclusive: London’s Guildhall is shut by Coronavirus

Exclusive: London’s Guildhall is shut by Coronavirus


norman lebrecht

March 02, 2020

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is the first to be shut down as a result of a Coronavirus carrier. The following email went out at 17.02 from the principal:

Dear colleagues and students,

We regret to inform you that a member of teaching staff has tested positive for Coronavirus. He is currently recovering well at the Royal Free Hospital. He was present and teaching in one of the ancillary School buildings on one day last week. He came into contact with a limited number of students and we are working closely with those students to ensure that they receive urgent appropriate advice.

As a precautionary measure, the School will be closed for up to fourteen days from today (Monday 2 March), to allow time for a review of the situation and for appropriate measures to be taken. In line with current Government advice, we are advising any staff and students who exhibit any symptoms during the 14 day period to use the Coronavirus online helpline (www.111.nhs.uk/covid-19 ) and to notify their line manager or their department head. Whilst I understand this will cause anxiety amongst the School community, all necessary steps are being taken to minimise risk to others.

All meetings, performances, workshops, masterclasses and any other on-site School engagements in the next fourteen days should be cancelled. Staff are encouraged to work remotely during this period and if they are in any doubt of how to do so should contact their Line Manager.

All staff and students will be contacted on a regular and frequent basis via email to update them on all necessary arrangements.

Lynne Williams


UPDATE: Guildhall School has confirmed that a member of its teaching staff has tested positive for Covid-19. The school has been given PHE advice. The staff and principal are working closely with students to ensure that they receive urgent appropriate advice.


  • Simon Scott says:

    More scaremongering.

    • Norbert says:


      How many people does the media think die of “conventional” flu every year in the UK…..it’s literally thousands.

      How many killed in road accidents every year? Again….it’s thousands.

      If you want to talk about serious public health threats…….diabetes. Arguably the single largest corporate public problem facing the NHS.

      • J says:

        By this logic, let us all cross the road with our eyes shut.

      • Armchair Bard says:

        Er… It’s as well, not instead.

      • Just sayin' says:

        A misleading argument. In general terms, influenza is a known entity –its genomes, serotypes, and structures are known, as are its virulence, replication cycle, mode of transmission, incubation time, etc. There are vaccines and prophylactic drugs to help prevent and treat it. The novel coronavirus was reported just over two months ago. Much remains to be explored and determined, it doesn’t look too friendly, and it’s just getting started. Prudence is warranted, and erring on the side of caution shouldn’t lead to frivolous criticism.
        Automobile accidents and diabetes are not contagious, and kill by other mechanisms.

        • Ben G. says:

          True, but until the world finds a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus, global populations will continue to worry and strive keep their distances from others. We can’t help it, it’s a natural human reaction.

          When science does find a cure, things will go back to a normal way of life: car accidents, diabetes, mortal selfie accidents, terrorist attacks, illegitimate cop shootings, and your usual everyday racist profilings, just to mention a few.

    • Steve says:

      Quite agree. Cancer, heart disease, suicide, mosquitoes, all these kill far more people than this virus but they don’t stop life going on. FFS

    • Karl says:

      In Seoul almost everyone is wearing a face mask and their temperatures are checked at every building they walk into.


    • Armchair Bard says:

      Here’s a chap who agrees with you:


      [If this doesn’t link, you can access via Google.]

  • KC says:

    It seems nobody above has yet considered the scope of said viruses. There are more people dying of flu, diabetes etc. because these diseases are more prevalent. Statistically, Covid is twenty times more lethal than flu. Similarly, we have no idea yet how it may develop / mutate / adapt and with no known cure available, that’s not something to take lightly. Covid is approximately as lethal as AIDS; is that, too, a huge fuss over nothing?! Spare a thought for the immuno-supressed, those with repiratory challenges, the eldery and the infantile, many of whom reside in large cities like London and rely on public trabsport. Having had penumonia last year, Covid would spell the end of my days…

    • Hilary says:

      “Covid is approximately as lethal as AIDS”

      A false comparison.
      I take on board some of your other thoughts.

      • V.Lind says:

        In what way false? Dead is dead. And Covid involves less agency than AIDS did. Just going outside can do it.

        • Hilary says:

          For a start AIDS ( as distinct from HIV) is an infection(s)/ disease(s). Not a virus.
          Sorry if that seems like I’m picking holes but the distinction is important.

      • KC says:

        You’re right, of course. Thank you for your reasoned response.

  • Kelvin Grout says:

    I do feel the media is scaremongering, but there are far too many unknowns with this virus, that the GSMD, my old school is wise to shut the doors.
    In contrast, a conservatory here in the Netherlands, told a student who has been traveling around North Italy this past week that he doesn’t need to self-incubate as he had chosen to do and just come in as usual. Same for the two teachers returning from numerous performances in Teneriffe where they were staying next to the hotel that was in quarantine! Which institution is behaving irresponsibly? Spare a thought for my wife teaching these students, singing, which basically means breathing straight in your face.

  • John Marshall says:

    Good that this institution has maintained it’s soul and it’s integrity-whatever happened to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama?

  • Patrick says:

    Work remotely. I love this. What I would do wouldn’t remotely resemble work.