LOUD pubs and restaurants are more likely to spread Covid, scientists warn.
Experts claim Brits may be better off sticking to a music-free boozer if they want to slash their risk of infection.
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One theory is that Covid can be spread through tiny floating particles that linger in the air for hours.
Bristol University researchers tested how much breath is exhaled when speaking, shouting and singing.
It follows concerns that crooning may be a potentially “dangerous” activity following clusters of coronavirus cases in several choirs.
But in tests on 25 professional singers, scientists found belting out a tune did not produce much more aerosol than when speaking at a similar volume.
But volunteers pumped out up to 30 times more breath when using their loudest voice than when talking quietly.
It means volume, rather than the method of delivery is key.
Experts said their findings spell good news for singers and other performing artists – as there is only a modest change to risk compared to speaking.
But they warned it may be best to avoid noisy venues where everyone is shouting over each other to be heard.
Asked whether he would visit a loud pub, researcher Jonathan Reid admitted he would now be “reluctant”.
The professor of Physical Chemistry at Bristol University added: “Knowing what I now know, volume is absolutely key.
“And so if there’s a lot of background noise in a place and people are speaking or singing very loudly because of that, that would make me wary.”
The study, published on the preprint server ChemRxiv, was carried out in a hospital theatre with a “zero aerosol background”.
It allowed the team to clearly measure how many particles were exhaled by each volunteer.
Experts said singers or performers could slash risk to an audience by using microphones to amplify their voice.
Researcher Declan Costello, a consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon specialising in voice disorders at Wexham Park Hospital, said: “Volume is the really crucial thing.
“Actually, just by singing a little bit more softly you can really reduce the risk.
“There is a statistically significant difference [between singing and speaking] but it’s very modest compared to the volume effect.
“It pales into insignificance compared to the 20 to 30-fold increase you see from the very quietest to the very loudest singing or speaking.
“So broadly speaking, it is good news for singing.”
Since August 15, socially distanced indoor and outdoor performances can take place.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “I know singing is an important passion and pastime for many people who I’m sure will join me in welcoming the findings of this important study.”