In an amendment to The Health Protection Regulations 2020, owners of restaurant, cafés and bars, including a bar in a hotel or members’ club, must take all reasonable measures to stop singing on the premises by customers in groups of more than six; or dancing on the premises by customers – with the exclusion of a wedding ceremony reception.
The new laws, which have been put in place for the duration of the pandemic, also limit music played on the premises to 85 decibels ‘when measured at the source of the music’. The rule does not, however, apply to live music
“The cumulative impact of layering restriction upon restriction is making it harder for pubs to survive,” says Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association.
“The sector has not been consulted on the evidence base for these extra restrictions on music. 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.”
Reacting to the decision, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls pointed out on Twitter that 85 decibels was the equivalent to the loudest volume setting on an iPhone.
In Scotland a complete ban on background music has been introduced as part of the Scottish Government’s attempts to combat Coronavirus in the country, a move that has been slammed by Night-Time Industries Association Scotland (NTIAS).
In response, the association has launched the campaign #DontStoptheMusic to raise awareness of the ban and is calling on people to share their favourite song of all time along with the #DontStopTheMusic hashtag.
The ban has been described as having “profound consequences” on a sector already hit by distancing measures and early closing times.
“The vacuum of atmosphere in any hospitality setting as a result of the ban on background music is having all kinds of profound consequences,” says Stuart McPhee, director at Siberia Bar & Hotel in Aberdeen.
“Well run, safe and controlled hospitality environments losing money despite their best efforts, customers leaning in to avoid overhearing conversation, staff dealing with constant issues such as customers playing music on their phones.
“But to top it off, the general public are staying away because in their own homes, there are none of these draconian measures."