Skip to main content Skip to accessibility
This website is not compatible with your web browser. You should install a newer browser. If you live in Jersey and need help upgrading call the States of Jersey web team on 440099.
Government of

Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

Covid-19 evidence for singing restrictions (FOI)

Covid-19 evidence for singing restrictions (FOI)

Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 06 October 2020.
Prepared internally, no external costs.

Original Request

With reference to the answer given by the Minister for Health and Social Services on 8 September 2020 to a question from Deputy Doublet about the position of singing under the Level 1 Guidance issued by the Government:


Please can you set out, with exactitude, (i) full details of the 'evidence' and 'observational studies' referenced in the third and fourth paragraphs of the answer, including the sources relied upon for knowledge and understanding of such evidence and studies (ii) the exact advice on, and regarding, these put to STAC, including details of peer review and expert scientific advice STAC received on the same ahead of the conclusion reached by STAC as referenced in the fifth paragraph of the answer.


Please would you also say (i) on which date details of the said 'evidence' and 'observational studies' was first circulated to STAC, and on which date the conclusion as referenced was made, and (ii) exactly how long a period of time was devoted to this particular agenda item at the relevant meeting of the committee.


With especial reference to the second and third lines of the fourth paragraph of the answer, please would you also set out full details of the scientific evidence and analysis that has been utilised, or relied upon, by STAC in advising the Minister as to guidance on 'loud talking and shouting' in venues such as sports events, clubs, pubs and similar such venues.


Please can you advise whether any or all the evidence and studies noted above took account of the position of children singing or playing instruments compared with adults ditto; and how STAC approached this particular aspect of the matter in giving advice to the Minister.

Original Response

 A and C

(i) The key references for the evidence base that was considered in preparing evidence for STAC are a range of studies on aerosol droplet transmission of Covid-19 and cluster infection and include risk assessment, observational research and meta-analysis.

  • Becher, Lia, Amayu Wakoya Gena, and C. Völker. "Risk assessment of the spread of breathing air from wind instruments and singers during the COVID-19 pandemic." (2020).

  • Kain, Morgan P., et al. "Chopping the tail: how preventing superspreading can help to maintain COVID-19 control." medRxiv (2020).

  • Parker, Alexander Stuart, and Kenneth Crookston. "Investigation into the Release of Respiratory Aerosols by Brass Instruments and Mitigation Measures with Respect to Covid-19." medRxiv (2020).

  • Parker, Alexander Stuart, and Kenneth Crookston. "Investigation into the Release of Respiratory Aerosols by Brass Instruments and Mitigation Measures with Respect to Covid-19." medRxiv (2020).

  • Buonanno, Giorgio, Lidia Morawska, and Luca Stabile. "Quantitative assessment of the risk of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection: prospective and retrospective applications." medRxiv (2020).

  • Asadi, Sima, et al. "Aerosol emission and superemission during human speech increase with voice loudness." Scientific reports 9.1 (2019): 1-10.

  • Prakash, Meher K. "Eat, Pray, Work: A meta-analysis of COVID-19 Transmission Risk in Common Activities of Work and Leisure." medRxiv (2020)

(ii) a report detailing the findings of the above studies was tabled to STAC. Release of the report is considered exempt under Article 35 (Policy under development) of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011.


(i) The date at which the documents were circulated is not held. 

STAC met and discussion took place on three occasions 20 July, 17 August and again on Wednesday 2 September. The minutes for these meetings have not yet been publicly released.

(ii) How long is given to each agenda item is not recorded.


The position of children singing or playing instruments compared with adults was not included within the report made to STAC. 

On the final meeting (September) STAC noted that whilst the studies on singing do not differentiate between children and adults that in light of children’s lower risk of harm from COVID that their learning needs should be balanced against risk which had been the underpinning principle in school opening and related guidance. Therefore the music guidelines were up-date to allow small groups of three (the GCSE and A Level requirement for music ensemble) to play / sing together with relevant mitigations to further reduce risk.

Article applied

Article 35 Formulation and development of policies

Information is qualified exempt information if it relates to the formulation or development of any proposed policy by a public authority.

Public Interest Test

The Scheduled Public Authority (SPA) is withholding the release of the requested policy document as this relates to the ongoing formulation and development of policy and procedure by the public authority.

Article 35 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test is required to be undertaken by the SPA. It is therefore necessary for the scheduled public authority to examine the circumstances of the case. Following assessment the SPA has to decide whether, on balance, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Although there is a need for transparency, accountability, financial and good decision making by public authorities this information relates to ongoing work. Government require safe space in order to complete policy work before release of related documentation.

It should also be noted that once a policy is formulated and published, the public interest in withholding information relating to its formulation is diminished, however, the use of the exemption can be supported if it preserves sufficient freedom during the policy formulation phase to explore options without that process being hampered by some expectation of future publication.

Internal Review Request

Thank you for the answer to this request. I request, please, an internal review of the SPA's decision per Art.35 to withhold release of the document I requested. My grounds are as follows:

The document in question is not a 'policy document'. It is described in the answer itself as "a report detailing the findings of the above studies". At issue is the nature of the 'detailing', as is clear from my original question.

Notwithstanding, the 'policy' to which it relates, the 'Level 1 Guidance', is neither a proposed policy, as provided for in Art.35, nor a proposed policy in 'ongoing formulation and development'. The 'policy' in question has been completed and published.

There is intense and highly legitimate interest in the way the Government has used evidence ('science', in the jargon) to buttress its various policies in dealing with the virus, and the Chief Minister himself has sought to maintain public confidence in difficult measures by emphasising such reliance by the Government. If the SPA believes that the public interest in not supplying requested evidence of the use of such 'science' in developing the policy now published, in what, moreover, is a narrow sphere, outweighs the public interest in supplying it, then it is hard but to conclude that there may be something to hide. All that is sought is details of how the 'science' in question was reported for use in policy-making.

The statement that the SPA has to decide the public interest test 'on balance' is not what the Law says. The test in Art.35 is 'in all the circumstances of the case'. There is no indication that all those have been considered, and if the test applied was just 'on balance' then the SPA misdirected itself.

The wording of the SPA's justification on the 'public interest test' is also ultra vires in that it purports to include 'procedure' within the definition of what may be in 'ongoing formulation and development'. That word, procedure, is not found in Art.35.

The last sentence of your section on 'the public interest test' does not flow from Art.9(2), which alone governs the public interest test, and, if relied upon by the SPA, would also be a misdirection. When, as stated, policy has been formulated and published, how can "use of the exemption" be 'supported' "if it preserves sufficient freedom during the policy formulation phase"? It is hard to see how the SPA could possibly be properly guided by such a curious combination of words. At issue, it is to be remembered, is, on the SPA's own admission, a report 'detailing the findings of [six] studies' (all of which, as you will no doubt be aware, are in the public domain).

Internal Review Response

This review has been completed by two senior members of the Government of Jersey, independent of the original decision-making process.

It has been established that at the date the original response was issued the application of Article 35 (Formulation and development of policies) of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 was applied in good faith.

However, having reviewed the timeline of events it is appreciated that the ‘Singing and brass woodwind evidence review’ should have been released with the response and is attached herewith.

Singing and brass woodwind evidence review

A review of the process for releasing such information has been undertaken and will be taken into consideration in response to future Freedom of Information responses.

Back to top
rating button