Reassurance for flute bands over Covid risk

The Orange Order’s grand secretary has welcomed news from scientists that playing the flute on the Twelfth poses less risk of spreading Covid than talking.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 6:50 am
Orange Order grand secretary Mervyn Gibson. Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.

Rev Mervyn Gibson said the findings, published in the journal Aerosol Science and Technology, have confirmed his belief that “tunes don’t hurt anybody”.

Scientists found that playing wind instruments generates fewer airborne particles than speaking or singing and is no different than a person breathing.

The study examined the amount of aerosols – a suspension of fine particles or liquid droplets – generated when a person played woodwind and brass instruments compared with breathing.

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It involved nine musicians playing 13 woodwind and brass instruments such as the flute, trombone and trumpet in an operating theatre with no background aerosol particles.

It is hoped the findings could help develop a roadmap for lifting Covid-19 restrictions in the performing arts.

With thousands of loyalist band members taking to the streets during the main parading month of July, Rev Gibson said: “We would welcome that news, that flutes don’t cause a problem.

“But we would still caution people to be careful, particularly around social distancing, when watching the parades.”

Rev Gibson added: “We have always known that the flute doesn’t do anybody any harm. Tunes don’t hurt anybody.”