Licensing Hub – Legal with Poppleston Allen

Legal Q&A: outdoor music, risk assessments and licencing conditions

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Background music: There is no ban on live music, particularly at low-level. If your Covid risk assessment is thorough then this should suffice (Image: Getty/Alessandro Biascioli)
Background music: There is no ban on live music, particularly at low-level. If your Covid risk assessment is thorough then this should suffice (Image: Getty/Alessandro Biascioli)

Related tags: Music, Entertainment, Legal, Licensing, Coronavirus, Poppleston allen

The latest legal Q&A from specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen responds to a query around the outdoor live music, Covid risk assessments and licensing conditions.

Q – My pub has a little outside courtyard which I have been using a lot more because of Covid.  

I have started having a live singer on Thursday, really low key and background, just to add some atmosphere, however, the licensing authority has said I am not allowed to do this as my licence only authorises live music indoors and they don’t think it’s a good idea anyway due to Government guidance about not having live music.  

I have carried out a full Covid risk assessment and I see no problem. Is there?

A – Let’s look at the issue of live music under the Licensing Act firstly.   

Up until 11pm, you should be able to have live music. This will either be because your courtyard area is considered part of the licensed premises or, if it is not (usually because it is not shown on the licensed plans within the red line where alcohol can be sold) it is still considered a “workplace”, and workplaces benefit from similar relaxations for live music as licensed premises do.  

The Government guidance is very clear that a workplace is a very wide term that can include outdoor spaces. Whether the courtyard is part of your licensed premises or is considered a workplace, you should be able to have live music until 11pm. 

However, check your premises licence to ensure there are no conditions which prevent you from having music outside in the courtyard. It can get a little complicated, and if your licensing officer is adamant you may need to take legal advice. Note also that unamplified music can take place anywhere until 11pm.  

Regarding live music and Covid, Government guidance is centred around reducing the level of any background noise to avoid the need for people to sit close or shout, activities which can of course increase the risk of airborne virus emissions and transmission. 

There is no ban on live music, particularly the low-level type you describe. If your Covid risk assessment is thorough then this should suffice.

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