COVID-19 information pack for Bally Studios Customers - July 2020.
Welcome back to Bally Studios. We can’t tell you how happy we are to see you again after so long. Needless to say, rehearsing at any rehearsal studios in a post COVID-19 world is going to be very different to what we’re all used to. However, with a bit of planning, small compromises here and there and planning, there’s no reason why you can’t have a great practice session, and more importantly, a safe one. We kindly ask you to follow the guidelines below to help us do our best to keep everyone - you, our other customers and our staff members - safe and healthy.
Firstly, the basics. All of our rehearsal studios are fully soundproofed, meaning that there’s no windows to refresh the air inside. This is the case for the vast (near complete) majority of all rehearsal studios in London. No matter how much you social distance within the studio, most of the air that is being breathed out by band members will stay in the room, and so will likely be breathed in at some point by another member. This happens in every single indoor environment, but in a rehearsal studios it will be more pronounced. From 2005-2020 we’ve had over 34,000 sessions here, and windowless rooms have never caused a problem before; but these aren’t normal times. As with any business at this time, this is not going to be a exercise in risk elimination, but instead in risk management, hence the huge amount of planning that we’ve gone to, and the long list of new requirements below. Whilst you should be alert to the need for caution, the size of this guide and the amount of new guidelines that we have in place should not scare you; instead it should reassure you as to the lengths that we’re going to to keep everyone safe.
This new way of working can be broken down into two stages,
with both the Bally Studios and the bands themselves working together to keep everyone safe.
Prevention = Reducing the risk that people who use the studios bring the virus into the studios in the first place.
Mitigation = Putting measures in place so that if the virus does enter the studios, we stop it being passed onto the other customers who come to us.
The #1 priority for all band members needs to be preventing the virus from getting into the studios. If it’s not in there in the first place, then transmission of the virus is impossible. so getting as close to this as possible needs to be the focus. This will be done by action from both the studios, and the band members.
Bally Studio Preventions in advance of the sessions.
1) The studios will be fully cleaned and sterilized so that if the band before you bought the virus in, it is killed and cannot be spread to the next band.
2) Rehearsal studios will be left empty before sessions for at least 4 hours, (and in most cases up to 18 hours), to reduce the risk of virus spores remaining in the studios. (Studies by the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that the virus can hang in the air for up to 3 hours, before settling on a surface, so we will always leave 4 hours between sessions to ensure any potential virus is not airborne.) After this time it can only be where it has fallen, and so all surfaces will then be disinfected properly (microphones, microphone stands, drum stands, door handles, guitar amps, mixing desks, XLR cables, light switches, the floor, the walls, etc, basically anything that a band member could potentially touch). All of the drum-kit spares box will be disinfected between each session. The felts will be sprayed, everything else (drum washers, wing nuts, etc) will be disinfected with boiling water and bleach. Carpets will be washed regularly, the communal areas will be mopped regularly, and paperwork will be available to give a full list of everything that has been done to make the room as clean and safe as possible. Staff members will be given extra time in their shift to complete this work, paid, with Bally Studios swallowing the extra cost of this work, which we are happy to do to ensure safe rehearsals.
3) Staff members who travel to the studios via public transport will bring a fresh change of clothes with them that will have been disinfected at home, carried to the studios in an air-tight container, with the staff member then disinfecting these clothes again once at the studios, and then changing into them. This will massively reduce the risk of staff members from bringing the virus into the studios from public transport.
4) All staff members will be sharing information with all other staff members about their risk of bringing the virus into the studios, (if they have flatmates who have shown symptoms, have been to any public gatherings where they may have mixed with people with the virus, etc.)
5) Our office will be cleaned every day with disinfectant/ bleach/ boiling water to ensure communal areas are safe.
6) Usual tasks that staff members do, like cashing up, re-stocking, amp repairs, social media, and general paperwork have been taken over by other staff members outside of the studios instead, so that the staff members that are present are able to focus on two things only: that the bands that come to us have a great rehearsal, and that it’s a safe rehearsal.
7) If you store equipment with us and need access to it for your rehearsal, please confirm this with us in advance, so that we can do this at a time that is safe, and so that we can disinfect your equipment.
Bally Studios Preventions when bands arrive for their sessions.
1) Upon arriving at the studios, each and every band member will have their temperature taken on their forehead by a digital thermometer, which will take about 3 seconds, in a way that is non-invasive. This helps us to know which band members are showing one of the symptoms of COVID-19. However, a temperature is just one of the symptoms of the virus, so even if you don’t have a high temperature, it doesn’t mean you don’t have it. Likewise, even if you do have a raised temperature, it doesn’t mean that you definitely have it. However, it is massively reduce the risks of taking bookings from someone with COVID-19, so it’s a step worth taking. There is no scenario where having less information will benefit anyone. The more information that we have the better, and if there is anyone else using the studios who registered as having a high temperature, (even if they are in another studio isolated from you) that information will be made available to all customers. By us doing this for every session, we can also build up a profile of whether there is a general trend in more customers showing symptoms as a whole, so we will know if keeping our doors open is causing more cases. (The data for this will be kept 100% safe, and will not be tied to the names of anyone in particular.)
2) Band members will be asked to use the hand sanitizer at the door to clean their hands, and will be asked to wipe down all guitars/guitar amps/snare drums, etc, that they bring with them with disinfectant spray, to prevent bringing it into the studios this way. We will spray a fine mist of disinfectant in the air over the instrument cases and wipe it down afterwards.
3) All band members will need to wear a mask in the communal areas, so that the risk of transmission between different bands is reduced. Once inside your studio, you are free to remove your mask. Therefore we ask you to bring a mask with you, or buy one from us. (We are not adding a profit margin on masks, we are simply charging what we paid for them.)
4) All payments for sessions must be done via bank transfer or via banking apps. Paypal payments are also accepted, but only if made via the "Family and Friends" option, so that we are not charged a commission. This will help us to reduce face to face contact, and also to eliminate the risk of the virus being passed by bank notes. Only one person in your band should pay for the session rather than multiple payments. You can then reimburse each other for any appropriate share. Please pay for session in advance, where possible, or during your session, as this will allow you to leave as soon as you finish, giving the next people arriving ample space and reduce overcrowding in the entrance area.
5) No bands will be allowed into the office to make purchases of snacks/music supplies. Instead you can tell a staff member (from a distance) what you want to buy, and the staff member can put the items into a tray, disinfect them, and then leave the tray in the corridor for the band member to collect, to reduce both hand to hand contact between customers and Bally Staff, and also to make sure it isn’t spread on the shop items purchased.
6) Band members also cannot go into the office to make teas and coffee’s, to further reduce risks.
7) For obvious reasons, bands will not be allowed to go into other rehearsal studios, apart from the one that they are booked in.
6) Rooms will be set up in full before the band gets there. We need to know in advance everything that your band needs in terms of how many amplifiers, keyboard stands, drums, cymbals, etc, so that this can all be prepared and disinfected in advance. This way, staff members can spend as little time in each room with band members as possible, reducing the risk of contamination.
7) Session times may be changed slightly (always having consulted the band beforehand to confirm) so that at the end of the session the door can be opened, and the room can be aired out as much as possible for 15 minutes before the staff member goes in to shut down the room. Band members will be asked to be as quick as they can be in setting down their equipment, as the sooner the band leaves, the more time the room can be left empty to reduce the risk of a staff member exposing themselves to anything in the air in the room. Usually at the end of the session a staff member will spend 10-15 minutes getting the studio ready for the next session, vacuuming, cleaning out the bin, etc. However, in this time they will only do the following: quickly check that both speakers are still working, and turn off all of the equipment/lights, spray disinfectatnt spreay on all surfaces, and then leave. At most, this will take 20-30 seconds, and so will reduce the risk of staff members being exposed to any risks. After 15 minutes of the room being aired out, with the door open, the door will be closed and locked, and the room will be prepared the following day for the next session, at a time after any potential virus will have fallen to the floor/surface, where there is much less chance of transmission.
8) On arrival, please do not unload your equipment into the entrance area until a member of staff confirms that your room is ready for you to go in to. This will allow us to keep the entrance area clear and for other customers to leave before you enter. This will also allow time for the room to be sanitised and cleaned before you go in.
9) We have installed temperature and humidity readers within each of the rehearsal studios so that we can monitor these readings. There have been many studies into the effects of temperature and humidity on the spread of COVID-19, and so we will gather information to ensure that the conditions within the studios are best suited to the reduction of the transmission of the virus.
Customer Preventions before their sessions.
1) At the time that you make a booking. all band members need to talk to each other openly and honestly, with regards to:
a) If they know that they have the virus.
b) If they are showing the symptoms of it.
c) If they have been somewhere else where they may have been exposed to it. (A gig, a crowded bar, hospital, they are in the same bubble as someone else who has tested positive for it, etc)
The band will then need to think and make a decision as to whether there is an elevated risk of any band member having it, and thus passing it onto their band mates and other customers at the studios. As a business, we are limited on what we can do to make sure that the people who come to us don’t have the virus. We can’t test for it, we can’t run background checks, and so we need band members to be sensible and take responsibility to inform the rest of their band members as to whether there is an elevated risk that they have it, and to plan accordingly.
2) Band members will be asked to avoid crowded public transport wherever possible, but (of course) we completely understand that for many people this is unavoidable. If anyone has arrived via public transport, they will be given all of the products that they need to disinfect themselves.
3) If you start to show symptoms of COVID-19 on the journey to the studios, please let us know before you enter the building. If a band needs to cancel their sessions due to showing symptoms of COVID-19, Bally Studios is happy to pay 50% of the cancellion fee that bands would have needed to pay. So, for example, usually a 50% fee is payable at 3 days notice, but if it is due to COVID-19 symptoms being shown, this will be lowered to 25%, and we will also offer extra studio time in the future, for free, to further mitigate the loss of such cancellations. As per usual, if we are able to fill the session with another band instead, then there is no fee.
4) When arriving, all guitar cases, amplifiers, and other equipment that the band bring with them will be disinfected outside the building.
5) Band members will need to directly go to their studios, as opposed to going to the office first. We have CCTV that we can use to monitor where bands are, and band members will be encouraged to message us via WhatsApp/text if they need anything else, wherever possible, or if that is not possible, bands are asked to communicate at a safe distance with staff members.
6) A perspex screen will be installed in the office, and our staff members will also wear masks, to further prevent transmission of the virus.
7) When parking, try to use parking spaces that are further away from other cars wherever possible, and be mindful of social distancing when going to and from your vehicles. Bicycles should be chained up outside and not brought into the building.
Customer Mitigations during/after their sessions
1) Once in their rehearsal studio, band members will be encouraged, but not be required to use a mask if they choose so. This is because numerous studios have shown that whilst wearing a mask indoors is beneficial, in circumstances where vigorous activity will cause the person to sweat, it is likely that the mask will also become wet, making it harder for the person to breathe through, causing them to breathe harder. which actually then increases the likelihood of the virus being transmitted into the room. Band members should communicate with each other in advance to confirm who will be wearing a mask and who won’t, so that everyone understands beforehand what choices their fellow band members are making. (Bally Studios staff members will be wearing a mask at all times.)
2) Please use the hand sanitiser provided on the wall of each studio when entering the rooms. You are also free to use your own, but hand santizer MUST be used.
3) Band are encouraged to social distance within their studio, which is why we will be limiting bands of the following band members to the following studios:
Studio 1 & 2 = Maximum of 6 band members
Studio 4 = Maximum of 5 band members
Studio 3 & 5 = Maximum of 4 band members
This will give all band members the space needed to socially distance.
4) Social distancing MUST be kept in all communal areas. Band members are urged to keep to the left in the communal corridor, so that band members passing each other are kept a minimum of 1.5 metres away from each other. If you are walking down the internal corridor outside studios 1,3 and 5, and you see another band member from another band also using the corridor, please step back and allow them to pass by before you proceed.
5) If you need to use the toilet, (both male and female) we will give you a disinfectant spray that you can use to spray over the toilet facilities/door handles in a fine mist, to ensure that they are disinfected before use.
6) If any band member plays a brass/woodwind instrument that will cause saliva to drip out of it, extra measures will need to be taken to ensure that the risk that this creates is mitigated. Please speak to a member of staff if this applies to you.
Bally Studios Mitigations.
1) Everything will be done to ensure that the bands who use the studios do not bring the virus in with them. However, with research saying that 60% of people will at one point catch COVID-19, we need to plan for the eventuality that the virus will be brought into the studios at some point; not as a way to accept defeat and to allow for mistakes to be made, but so that if it does happen, we are prepared to reduce the impact of it.
Here is where we need to make a distinction between the transmission between band members within a band, and band members of different bands. Bally Studios will do everything that we can to make sure that the virus is not passed from band members of one band to another, a large part of which will be based around protecting our staff members from the virus. Our staff members will need to interact to all bands, so by protecting our staff members, we reduce the risk of them being the conduit that passes the virus between bands. Measures such as them being completely disinfected, having a perspex screen between them and the customers, banning bands from entering the office, and being super strict on the rules outlined here will allow us to do that.
However, we need to also be realistic here: the biggest risk of transmission at the studios will be between band members, since they will be sharing an airspace with each other for 4+ hours at a time. This is why it is imperative that all steps are taken beforehand, to ensure that band members reduce the risk of catching the virus and bringing it into the studios in the first place. And whilst we will never ever be complacent, we should also keep this in perspective: when you travel on the tube, there may be up to 800+ people in the carriage with you, (on walk through carriages) up to 6.000+ people may have been in that carriage in the last 3 hours, up to 50,000 people may have used the stations you start and end your journey at, with no way of knowing where they have been, with them touching surfaces, sharing the same airspace, etc. By contrast in the studios we will be disinfecting the studios between each use, you will be able to verify the health status of everyone else within your band in advance, and you will only share airspace with up to 5 other people at the same time. Therefore we feel confident that the risks posed to bands using the rehearsal studios are much less than in other parts of society, and that they fall within the parameters of what is acceptable.
2) If we feel that, at any time, circumstances are such that bands are exposed to a much higher level of risk than we first anticipated, then immediate action will be taken, including the cancellation of all sessions booked at the studios. All sessions booked at Bally Studios are done so with the caveat that they may need to be canceled at a later date, if it is felt that there is a risk to customers from these sessions.
3) If any band members show any symptoms of having contracted the virus within 14 days of their rehearsals, we really urge you to please contact us to let us know, so that we can inform all of the bands that were also at the studios that day, as well as the band that used the studio that you were in the following day. Your privacy will always be kept in this case, we will simply contact all of the other bands to tell them that “another member of a band” who used the studios on the same day as them is now showing symptoms/has tested positive for COVID-19, and that they need to be aware of this.
4) We will be keeping a full record of what percentage of our customers have
a) Raised temperatures.
b) Symptoms of COVID-19.
c) Confirmed cases of COVID-19.
All of these records will be made available at any time to our customers, (whilst ensuring that the privacy of individual band members is protected), so that they have the full information that they need to make the best decision.
5) For safety reasons, we are unable to lend out any guitars for bands to use, since the risk of transmission of the virus is just too high to justify.
6) We have replaced all of our bins at the studios with ones that have a foot pedal on them, to prevent bands from needing to touch them with their hands. (These bins will still be disinfected after every session.)
7) When you enter the studios at the start of your session, there will be 3 microphones in place, having been disinfected already. We ask that at the end of every session the bands unplug them, and take them off of the stand, and put into into the disinfected sandwich bag that will be provded to each band. Our staff members will then be able to spray lots of disinfectant into the bag to ensure that they are fully disinfected for the next band
8) We have removed everything from the room that is not essential, and that can be easily removed. This is so that band members have more room to move around in, and so that there is less stuff for us to clean in between sessions. if you require a chair for any reason, or any other bit of equipment that you usually need, then please ask.
Finally, and importantly, this will be the first time that any of us have had to plan for sessions in this way. If mistakes are made, then there will inevitably be small delays needed to correct those errors, so please be patient and understanding with us. We are doing our best to make sure that everyone who comes to the studios is kept safe, and that will take a bit of time. Any session time lost due to mistakes on our behalf will be made up in later sessions, for free. It is vital that safety is given priority over speed of service, so we ask in advance for your understanding at this difficult time. If anyone coming to the studios has any other suggestions as to how we can improve our working practices, please let us know so that we can look into also introducing them, and if any customers have any concerns or doubts, please don’t be shy in letting us know. We’re all in this together. :-)
The Team at Bally Studios.