Just in: Berlin permits choir singing

Just in: Berlin permits choir singing


norman lebrecht

August 11, 2020

The Berlin Senate has finally allowed choirs to sing again indoors.

A new hygiene protocol permits singing at a distance of at least four meters from the audience in order ‘to achieve a sensible balance between minimising Covid infection risk and the need to sing together again in churches and choirs.’

UPDATE: From the new regulations:


The room must be ventilated regularly, ideally by cross-ventilation. After 30 Minutes.
Rows of common singing must have an impulse ventilation (ideally cross ventilation) of at least 15 minutes.
– Continuous external ventilation (e.g. windows on tilt or fully open) should be provided from the beginning of the rehearsal or the event to the end.
After the end of a rehearsal in which 60 minutes of singing have taken place, the room must be ventilated crosswise for 30 minutes, after which the room must remain empty for two hours. Before the start of the next rehearsal, again, cross-ventilate for 30 minutes.
A mouth-and-nose cover is required during rehearsals and performances for singers and the audience. However, it is strongly recommended that singers and the audience wear the mouth and nose protector for the entire duration of the event.
Special regulations for singing together in church services
Common singing (i.e. both choir and congregational singing) in closed sacred rooms within the framework of church services is permitted if the duration of the service does not exceed 60 minutes, the common singing lasts for a maximum of 15 minutes, the sacred room has sufficient manual ventilation (see above) and a ceiling height of at least 3.5 metres. If a mechanical ventilation possibility is available, the duration of the service must not exceed 90 minutes and the common singing must not exceed 30 minutes. All
With the exception of the arts staff, participants should use a mouth-and-nose cover; the minimum distance of 2 metres must be maintained in all directions.



  • Amos says:

    The issue is not the distance from the audience but from their fellow choristers. One person in the choir infects their colleagues who then initiate the cascade unless testing and tracing ae quickly initiated.

    • Hilary says:

      There are many more parameters in place than the now famous case in the US. To what extent these parameters are the result of rigorous testing I’m not sure but this is Germany where things are less than arbitrary.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      Indeed. The timing of the announcement is odd, given that Germany’s daily new infection rate (measured over a moving 7-day average) has increased fourfold since its minimum in mid-June.

      Mind you, I’d rather be there than here, where the daily new infection rate per capita is 14.8 times higher than Germany’s…

  • CasCat says:

    The risk of infection between choristers is no different to how it has always been – viruses pass between people all the time and always will, regardless of proximity. It’s about minimising risk and dealing with potential outbreaks.

    • Amos says:

      I don’t know where you studied public health or immunology but a highly infectious respiratory virus, for which there is no vaccine, is not like any other virus. By trivializing the situation you are endangering everyone in your community. How many people have to die or wind up in the ICU before you are willing to accept the reality of the situation and take appropriate precautions? Would you want a loved one singing in the choir knowing the outcome could be catastrophic now but likely not in 6-8 months? The last mass outbreak in a US choir was caused by 1 person and infected at least 100. Is that acceptable?

      • John Chunch says:

        Hear hear. No, no death is ever acceptable. We must permanently end artistic activities until the deadly coronavirus has been completely eliminated. I personally won’t miss it. Being safe from the virus offers a much deeper and warmer form of pleasure.

        • Amos says:

          Sarcasm noted. I readily admit that having to live without live performances is a sacrifice for the listener and to a much greater degree the performer. In the US we are now wrestling with a similar but to my mind an even greater dilemma, whether to send our children back to school. Our very uneducated Secretary of Education has opined that we must open schools and that only 0.2% of school children will likely perish (I don’t know where the figure was derived). Sounds reasonable until you do the math and realize that is ~ 15,000 deaths. Can anyone really justify losing 15,000 children when there are alternatives which even if imperfect can be implemented until we have a vaccine? As it applies to performance art is any loss of life or suffering justified?

          • CasCat says:

            How interesting that you care so much now about this virus and the ready-to-hand statistics you spout to validate your case. Did you take such such precautions to stop the spread of other coronavirus strains which cause untold deaths every year, either directly or through other complications, or indeed the crippling childhood diseases that spread like wildfire through unvaccinated children and which can also be fatal. No – just this one. I assume you are another waiting for a world in which all are always safe and no-one ever dies. No deaths are acceptable – but they happen – and yes, I have first hand experience. You talk bout accepting reality – the reality is learning to assess and manage risks – not run away and hide until someone else sorts it all out for you.

          • Amos says:

            First, no other Coronavirus has caused the devastation of 19. Second, I’ve spent the past 30 years developing the technics required to both better understand how viruses impact health and to develop treatments. Last, I’m not waiting for anything I go out every day but with a mask and gloves in the event, I encounter an uninformed jackass like you.

        • Milton Tonsil says:

          Another day, another milk-toast contribution from Professor Chunch. Face the facts, Chunch – without the arts, our society would crumble immediately. We CANNOT let this happen.

  • Paul Brownsey says:

    What about the swingers catching it from each other? Why is there concern nly for the audience?

  • Clive Hook says:

    No mention of this here…

  • PG says:

    These suggestions in terms of length of rehearsal, time for air changes between segments, masking, and ventilation are almost exactly what has been detailed in the preliminary results from the University of Colorado and University of Maryland aerosol/performing arts studies that have been released in the last week. I suspect that is the data they based this on.