Musicians Union regrets Covid easing

Musicians Union regrets Covid easing


norman lebrecht

February 25, 2022

Statement from the MU in the UK:

The Musicians’ Union (MU), whilst welcoming in principle the scrapping of restrictions taking effect in England from today, has expressed serious concerns about how the end of free testing may affect its members.

The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday stated that Covid-19 restrictions and free mass testing will end in England, with people who test positive for Covid no longer having to isolate by law and from April will not even be advised to stay at home if infected.

Naomi Pohl, MU Deputy General Secretary, said:

“We are aware that clinically vulnerable musicians in particular will have real worries about this announcement. With the music industry in recovery from the Covid-19 crisis but widely using testing, it also remains to see what the impact may be on, for example, live performances, studio sessions and orchestral work.

“Most musicians are self-employed and may have to bear the costs of tests and generally will not receive any sick pay or cancellation fees if they contract Covid and choose to isolate to protect their colleagues. We have written to the Government to ask that free testing is retained for workers, like musicians, who are generally unable to work from home and often unable to socially distance.

“In addition, we are encouraging members to email their MP with their concerns at the end of free testing, with particular emphasis on how the end of access to free Lateral Flow Tests and PCR Tests is likely to affect their ability to work.”

Scotland’s Covid passport scheme is set to end on Monday 28 February with the legal requirement to wear face masks being lifted on 21 March. For now, self-isolation for those who test positive will remain in place. Restrictions in Wales and Northern Ireland are still subject to review.

Free testing will also end for the majority of people from Friday 1 April and those on low pay will no longer get financial support to isolate if they test positive. Sick pay will revert to pre-pandemic rules, with eligibility from day four of illness rather than day one.

For reference:

Joint Musicians’ Union and The Ivors Academy research in September 2021 revealed that 40% of clinically extremely vulnerable musicians would still have to shield beyond the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the end of the vaccine roll-out to protect their health or the health of someone with whom they live.

The research also showed that nearly 60% of musicians and music creators received no financial support whilst shielding (60% of these because they did not meet the eligibility criteria), and over 60% anticipate they will lose 50-100% of their usual income or work opportunities to September 2022 because of their continued need to shield


  • erich says:

    The decision to end free testing is a disgrace, particularly for cash-strapped and freelance employees and will doubtless lead to an increase in infections. It is no surprise that this Philistine government, led by this serial liar and incompetent (how he must be loving playing ersatz Churchill now, in order to detract from the shambles which he and his bunch of pygmies on the front bench have created), and with another national joke as culture minister, never gives a serious thought to the arts. The arts community doesn’t win votes. Only if sports hooligans start cutting up rough do they react. A loathsome bunch of corrupt individuals who MUST be voted out of office at the earliest opportunity.

  • Maria says:

    Nobody is banning the wearing of a proper medical mask as in Germany and Austria if an individual wants to protect themselves. If masks don’t work, then what was the point of wearing them in the first place. I’ve never worn a mask as I am exempt under British and Irish law. But cutting off all facial expressions has made a lot of people mentally ill as well as isolated socially. Free testing was never going to be sustainable forever when the virus is going to be around for years. People now have to take responsibility for themselves and get on with what is left of life – not so many years for many left.

  • Dr Tonreihe says:

    Absent rationale for ongoing mass asymptomatic testing. Likewise masks should be ditched. Everyone is going to get covid if not already, with inevitable multiple exposure it becomes a normal unavoidable viral illness. These “control measures” no longer make any sense with protection of vaccines, and increased infectiousness and reduces virulence of Omicron. Time to move on folks. And that includes the LSO and their matching designer facemasks.

    • Emil says:

      Did you miss the “clinically vulnerable” part? For some people, ‘just get COVID’ is not an option, for instance if they’re immunosuppressed (which is, in fact, a surprisingly high proportion of the population).

  • Karl says:

    “Most musicians are self-employed and may have to bear the costs of tests and generally will not receive any sick pay or cancellation fees if they contract Covid and choose to isolate to protect their colleagues.” Then don’t isolate and don’t even get tested since people who test positive for Covid no longer having to isolate by law. Treat it the way we used to treat the flu. Thousands of people died from it yearly but we didn’t shut down society because of it.

  • henry williams says:

    life is always hard for the self employed.
    no holiday pay. or sick pay.