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City of Kingston clarifies regulations on live music during pandemic

Spencer Evans and Oscar Evans performing at the Love Kingston Marketplace in Springer Market Square on Tuesday, Jun. 30, 2020. Photo by Rhea Lynn.

It’s no secret that live music plays a huge role in the Kingston community, so it isn’t surprising that the confusion surrounding the regulations on live music has become an issue for many.

Last month, Kingstonist reported that live music is not allowed on patios in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) region during Phase 2 of the Provincial Framework for Reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The confirmation of this regulation did not go over well with musicians and live music fans, particularly because jurisdictions surrounding the KFL&A region were (and are) permitting live music on patios.

This confusion was further compounded when, as part of the Love Kingston Marketplace initiative, live music was suddenly taking place in Springer Market Square. In an attempt to find some clarity on this matter, Kingstonist reached out to the City of Kingston and KFL&A Public Health for more information.

Manager of Cultural Marketing for the City, Julie Fossitt, said the City of Kingston consulted KFL&A Public Health about the implementation of live music at the Love Kingston Marketplace.

“The topic of live music has evolved over the various stages of re-opening, so recommendations may have changed over time as the Ministry provided regulation and guidance,” Fossitt said. “KFL&A Public Health was consulted during phase 1 of the re-opening in which gatherings were not allowed and there was no current provincial guidance on live music. KFL&A Public Health suggested the City could have performers in phase 2 if they could provide physical distancing and ensure large groups did not congregate.”

Fossitt went on to say that Public Health was advised live music events as part of the Love Kingston Marketplace would not be advertised events. The programming includes “a variety of measures that have been taken in order to ensure performances are conducted in a manner that is aligned with provincial regulations and public health guidance,” she said. These include the location of the performances, signage indicating ‘no gathering’ and promoting physical distancing, and the performers being physically sectioned off from pedestrians and on-lookers in order to ensure physical distancing and ensure there is no droplet spray exchanged between performers and on-lookers.

Spencer Evans and Oscar Evans perform at the Love Kingston Marketplace in Springer Market Square from behind decorative bunting used to separate performers from those sitting at the bistro tables in the Square. Photo by Rhea Lynn.

When asked why musicians are allowed to perform in Springer Market Square but not at other locations, Fossitt explained that the provincial government permitted busking to commence again “on or around June 12, 2020,” and that City Licensing staff are providing busker applicants with those guidelines and expectations.

“Buskers are required to follow/adhere to the physical distancing parameters; people watching also have to follow those,” she said.

Importantly, Fossitt also clarified that live music is allowed on patios in Kingston, providing there is no singing or dancing involved.

“At this time, based on the phase 2 re-opening and further guidance, live music (no singing or dancing) is allowed on restaurant patios. Singing and dancing is not allowed on restaurant patios as per the regulation. Locally, live music can occur as long as musicians are physically distanced from patrons. Group sizes should continue to follow the current guidance of 10 people or less and physical distancing should be maintained,” she said, noting that the volume of any live music is to remain low.

To be clear, the musicians playing in Springer Market Square as part of the Love Kingston Marketplace are permitted to sing. Kingstonist reached out to KFL&A Public Health to clarify the reasoning behind this, and was provided the following information:

“Live music, meaning just instrumental music, can be played on a patio (outdoor dining area). The regulations states no dancing or singing may be permitted in the outdoor dining areas,” said Public Health Inspector Cindy Lee in an email. “The square is not an outdoor dining area. The City must monitor to ensure physical distancing of two metres from each other, size of gathering, performer should be a distance from the crowd, etc.”

As for how musicians have been and will continue to be selected for performances as part of the Love Kingston Marketplace, Fossitt explained that, at this point, musicians have been contacted from pre-existing performance list, such as those already on hand from previous seasons at the City and the Downtown Kingston! BIA. Any musicians interested in participating in the Love Kingston Marketplace can contact Jayson Duggan, Performing Arts Manager for the City, at [email protected].

When asked for comment on live music during Phase 2 and presented with the information provided by the City, KFL&A Public Health stated they have nothing to add to what the City of Kingston has stated.

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