Safer busking, social distancing and the future.

Safer busking, social distancing and the future.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the concepts of busking and social distancing are not obvious bedfellows.

However, in these uncertain times, it looks like us buskers are going to have to find ways of reconciling the two if we are to survive the foreseeable future. So to that end we’re making a few suggestions about how to operate as the streets slowly open up again.


The Covid crisis has undoubtedly speeded up the move towards a cashless society. Not only is it likely that punters will be carrying less cash in the first place, but processing contactless donations reduces the risk of transmission. A card reader such as iZettle (preferably with a repeat function) will be a very handy addition to your arsenal. We’d also recommend looking into an app such as The Hat app, and/or setting up a profile at The Busking Project. If you have a PayPal account you can set up a link in a few seconds.


As the Coronavirus can be passed on through use of both coins and notes you’ll probably want to disinfect your daily takings. The best way to do this is to collect them in a sealable plastic container and not touch them until you get home. Then you can open the container and spray them liberally with disinfectant. Make sure they are well covered and wipe any notes clean with a tissue, then leave them for an hour or so. Then you can pour/wipe away the excess disinfectant and dry the money with some kitchen roll. Leave it again to stand until it is fully dry before bagging it up, rolling it or whatever you’d normally do. Make sure you also give the container (and your work surface) a good wipe down before reusing it. If you normally use a hat you should probably line it with a plastic bag so you can easily collect the contents without touching them.


Wash your hands thoroughly after handling your equipment, your money, before eating, after driving etc. As regularly and frequently as possible. As access to hand washing facilities may be limited when you’re out and about, carrying and hand sanitiser may be a good idea.


Social distancing can make choosing your pitch more complicated than usual. Firstly you will need to leave a good distance between yourself and your case/hat/container etc. We’d suggest at least 2 metres to make people feel extra comfortable AND also to make it very obvious that you are acting responsibly and social distancing. Then there needs to be enough space beyond that to allow people to pass safely without donating. Be aware of whether people might need to get behind you or to the sides and leave a couple of metres in each case if they do. Another very important consideration is to anticipate where people may need to queue to enter businesses, as this could make customers nervous, cause complaints and lead to you being asked to move on. It is worth checking out our general tips on pitch selection as well.


Learn the law, regulations and guidelines regarding working, travelling, gathering and social distancing wherever you are. Print relevant documents or store them on your mobile devices so you can refer to them if challenged. You can find some useful links on our Coronavirus help post. It is also worth considering how other (non-Corona) legislation might be used to prevent you performing.


You may find that you feel less comfortable than usual in ‘digging in’ when asked to move during the crisis, or also that pedestrian flows change in unanticipated ways or queues develop. For this reason it may be beneficial to reduce your equipment to a minimum so that your set up and take down times are as short as possible.


This is particularly important if there are restrictions on gatherings. It is your responsibility to manage your crowd. For walk by acts it is relatively easy to ask people between songs to disperse or be aware of social distancing. Circle acts may want to look at adapting their shows into a number of short ‘segments’ where you can bottle and ask punters to move on rather than trying to build a large crowd for a big finale.

Support your buskers!!

Support your buskers!!

Due to the current Covid crisis and lockdowns buskers are left with little to absolutely zero chance of working and earning money, and are also in a precarious position regarding any government help.

Many have turned to performing and/or raising money online to get them through this difficult period.

Keep Streets Live is endeavouring to support them by sharing links to live streams and crowdfunders, both here and on our new Facebook page Keep Streets Live Streams. We’d also like to extend our support to other buskers who face hardship in one way or another, whether that be ill health, theft or other circumstances.

Please email if you’d like to appear on our page or if you know of anybody who needs support in this way.

Keep Streets Live Patreon page.

Live Music Streams with The Moot and others.

Help touring musicians was set up by Ian Russell of Scorpio Promotions. The aim was to raise money for artists who were stuck in Europe and receiving cancellations as the lockdowns began to take force. A number of buskers are included in the individuals for which money is being raised, and will be contributing music to an album in the near future to promote the fund.

Musicians of Lancaster includes a number of individuals regularly seen on the streets of Lancaster, Morecambe and further afield. The organisers have set up the Sterile Sessions online where performers can livestream.

Busking Beyond Borders. A book about busking and traveling by David Fisher. David has busked in approximately 50 countries including every country in the EU.

Matt Tomlinson had his bagpipes stolen and now cannot busk due to the lockdown in Scotland.That’s a slightly unfortunate double-whammy!