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17: Coronavirus: What Dancers & Organisers Need to Know 

Ballroom Status:  RED
(social dancing not currently possible)

Summary:  Indoor spaces only available for essential purposes, travel outside the home only permitted for essential purposes.  Neither social dancing nor private practice possible (except in ones own home).

Update 27/02/2021

The following applies to England only, the situation in Wales might vary.

A timetable for the relaxation of restrictions was announced on 22/02/2021.  In brief, the timetable is (dates subject to review):

29th March:  “Stay At Home” restrictions lifted. 

12th April:  Indoor venues are permitted to re-open for non-essential purposes, including leisure facilities, with precautions.  Hospitality venues permitted to open outdoors only.  Gatherings limited to “rule of six”*, outdoors only.

17th May:  Hospitality permitted indoors (including private homes) with “rule of six”*.  30 attendees permitted for “life events” (such as weddings), otherwise gatherings of up to 30 permitted outdoors only.

21st June:  All remaining restrictions lifted.  Night clubs and dance halls permitted to open for the first time since emergency Covid restrictions were passed into law on 26th March 2020.

* This is a modified “rule of six”, meaning two households (of any size) or up to six people if more than two households.  A “support bubble” formed between a single person and another household counts as one household.

Therefore, my interpretation of the consequences on dancing in general are:

From 12th April, couples in one household/bubble will be able to hire a community hall for private practice; commercial dance studios will be able to resume lessons and classesby using protocols for social distancing as negotiated by their professional bodies.

From 17th May, group practice in a hired hall permitted within to the “rule of six”.

From 21st June, all activities are permitted to resume without restriction – but individual organisers might take a view about implementing precautions.

Dates are subject to review and variation, according to the progress of vaccination and reduction in Covid cases.  In the event the recovery is not as rapid as predicted, the dates will be delayed.

For some period last year, and from 12th April according to the above timetable, professionals affiliated to one or more of the professional associations such as the ISTD or ITDA were, and will be, permitted to provide lessons and classes by ensuring attendees are confined to their own socially-distanced space, providing adequate ventilation and cleansing, one-way separate entry and exit, etc.

However, dance organisers should note that “dance halls” have not been permitted to open by law since restrictions were first introduced last March, and remain prohibited by law until the restrictions are repealled (projected for 21st June).  I am aware some organisers have chosen to interpret the law as not applying to dances organised in community halls rather than dance halls, but until that interpretation is tested in a court of law we will never be clear on this point – and it might very well be argued that any indoor space used for the purpose of general dancing (rather than a class) is a dance hall.

Nonetheless, barring an uplift in the numbers of Covid infections, the end is in sight!

The current version of the regulation is available on-line: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350

In addition to the legislation, there are hundreds of pages of official guidance which are the conditions under which businesses are permitted to trade.  These specify measures for social distancing, risk assessments, etc.