Pubs banned from playing loud music

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Music limit: pubs must ensure “no music is played on the premises which exceeds 85db" in new laws
Music limit: pubs must ensure “no music is played on the premises which exceeds 85db" in new laws

Related tags Music lockdown Coronavirus Health and safety Legislation

The pub sector was not adequately consulted on extra restrictions on pub music volumes, a trade association has said.

Publicans in England must now “take all reasonable measures” to make sure “no music is played on the premises which exceeds 85db(A) when measured at the source of the music” as per new laws.​ 

How loud is 85 decibels?

85 decibels is the equivalent to the sound of city traffic when the listener is inside the car or a the level from a leafblower, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said the sector is being throttled by additional restrictions amid a difficult enough recovery period.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “The cumulative impact of layering restriction upon restriction is making it harder for pubs to survive. We have already seen a total ban on music in pubs in Scotland, which has seen trade plummet there.

Lack of consultation 

“The sector has not been consulted on the evidence base for these extra restrictions on music," McClarkin added. "We are acutely aware of our responsibilities as businesses, but the Government is in danger of cutting off any chance of a recovery.

"Instead of placing further restrictions on pubs, we need the Government to focus on putting a proper support package in place to help our sector survive the winter.”

Shouting can increase the risk of aerosol transmission of coronavirus. Pubs have been advised to discourage customers shouting at sports games or singing loudly since reopening.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Undertakings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 come into force today (Monday 28 September).

Operators must also crack down on “singing on the premises by customers in groups of more than six” and “dancing on the premises by customers”.

The volume limit “ does not apply to any performance of live music”, the legislation states.

There is also an exemption on the dancing ban - couples can dance at their wedding or civil partnership ceremony and reception.

Pubs could be fined £1,000 for breaching this law.

No atmosphere

Other amendments to this legislation include ensuring customers and staff wear face coverings when not seated and do not permit groups of more than six punters to enter or book. 

It comes as businesses were told they could face hefty fines for failing to adhere to coronavirus regulations​ last week by the Prime Minister.

Scottish operators told The Morning Advertiser​ of their frustration towards a total background noise ban, describing it as taking the atmosphere out of their sites.

Aberdeen operator Martin Farmer runs two bars in the city and said: "The lack of people allowed in the venue [because of social distancing] coupled with no music makes an empty feeling venue which really doesn't make it appealing to the guests.

"People like to go to venues to enjoy themselves and use it as a sense of escapism, without an atmosphere, what's the point? The ban in music will 100% impact our venues."

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