The Minnesota Department of Health seems to recommend that students involved in their schools’ bands and orchestras wear masks with mouth holes while playing their instruments.
A recently released set of directives pertaining to “music activities and performances during COVID-19” outlines “the required and recommended precautions” to be taken by “businesses or organizations providing musical activities or performances — including but not limited to commercial businesses, youth symphonies, orchestras, colleges, schools, and places of worship.”
Organizations that fall under the groups identified by the new guidance are asked to “consider using face coverings designed for singers and musicians who play brass or woodwind instruments, whenever possible.”
However, musicians are also allowed to “remove their face covering during an indoor practice or performance if the face covering cannot be used while playing the musical instrument, provided that social distancing is always maintained.”
The Department of Health is notably vague about what face coverings “designed” to be used while playing an instrument might look like. In New Mexico, members of the New Mexico State University Marching Band wear face coverings with vertical slits like the one seen below.
Some professional musicians have also taken to wearing face masks with a zipper over the mouth as they perform.
Students from other states have mentioned via social media that they’ve been asked to wear similar masks while attending band practice.
Alpha News reached out to the Department of Health to clarify exactly what it means by “face coverings designed to be worn while playing,” but did not receive an immediate response.
Another “strongly recommended” measure involves having “brass and woodwind players use coverings for their instruments to reduce droplet spread while playing.” Several musicians have posted pictures of themselves using homemade covers while some music-related retailers like McCormick’s now offer them for sale.
The state also requires musical groups to maintain social distancing and keep masks on “conductors and musicians that are not playing woodwind or brass instruments.”
Marching bands are also required to “limit practice groups to 25 or players less [sic],” and music instructors are advised to discontinue in-person lessons in favor of remote ones.
“COVID-19 is an emerging disease. We expect to learn more over time and will update this guidance with new information as it is available. The recommendations are based on current public health data and may be revised in the future based on new information,” the guidance concludes.