CHOIRS fear “there may be no light at the end of the tunnel” after scientists have warned singing when meeting in person could increase the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Dave Cooke, producer and director of the Waterside Choirs, based in Leigh, worries how much longer members will be able to carry on rehearsing virtually, with unreliable internet connections proving quite a challenge over the past few months.

Instead of rehearsing at their usual sites, The Fishermen’s Chapel in Leigh and Hadleigh Methodist Church, members have instead practised twice a week over Zoom.

Dave, determined to keep the choir up and running, said: “We are really grateful that we have the technology to be able to continue. We have 64 registered members who really enjoy coming together to sing, chat and socialise.

“But there are often delays doing things virtually, which definitely has its challenges and it will only keep us going for so long. Unless there’s a vaccine or cure I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“For a choir it doesn’t work, even doing small meet ups in groups of six - at least two of the people are a conductor and pianist, so it would still take forever to do one rehearsal.

“We will do this as long as we can, it’s our priority and we don’t want to see it go.”

The team, which is always looking for new members, plan to re-unite in person as soon as it is safe to do so.

Heather Simmons, co-director of the choir, added: “It has been really hard to get used to the technology and singing virtually. There seem to be a lot of timing setbacks and all the choir has to be muted, so we can’t even actually hear what they sound like. We just have to wait for them to give a thumbs-up or down on whether they have got their part.

“There are some members who no matter what their equipment is, the connection doesn’t work, which does get frustrating. Some have even given up trying to join us on Zoom because of it and ours goes down sometimes, which affects the whole choir.”

She continued: “It’s still so lovely we get to see all of their faces and meeting does really bring people together. For members who are shielding and haven’t got their usual routine to distract them, it’s something for them to focus on in the week.

“I just don’t think it will ever replace the feeling of singing as a group in a live rehearsal or performance.”