Ban on music in Scottish hospitality venues to be lifted

11 December 2020 by
Ban on music in Scottish hospitality venues to be lifted

A ban on hospitality venues playing music in Scotland is to be lifted from 12 December.

Pubs and restaurants have been unable to provide background music and televisions have been muted since 14 August.

Businesses were also told to challenge customers who start to shout or sing.

The Scottish government said measures were necessary to reduce the need for raised voices which may have contributed to coronavirus spread through saliva droplets.

The ban resulted in a 20% drop in trade in the first two weeks after it was introduced, according to the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA).

Updated guidance has been issued which sets out how sound levels can be managed safely. This includes ensuring televisions and music are not playing at the same time, while live music will still not be permitted.

A spokesperson for the SBPA said: "Ambience and atmosphere are integral to pubs and bars, so the ban had huge negative impacts for the trade and there will be a collective sigh of relief it's now over. The regulations and current levels are still too restrictive on the hospitality sector though, with even the lower levels presenting viability problems for much of the sector. The Scottish Government need to continue these positive steps by addressing this, to support businesses and save jobs".

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) told The Caterer the relaxation of the rules was "excellent news".

"Music is definitely something that's been missing from licensed premises," he said.

"[The ban] has had an impact on trade. Premises have found it very difficult with all the restrictions, and not being able to have music or television commentary on sports events hasn't helped."

Yesterday the Scottish government announced a further £185m funding was being made available to businesses affected by Covid-19.

This included £60m to the tourism sector, £1.8m for brewers and £15m for the wedding sector and its supply chain. There will also be one-off payments to hospitality businesses in January of £2,000 or £3,000, depending on rateable value.

More details are expected in the coming days, with the grants opening for applications in January.

Wilkinson said: "[The grants] won't be substantial enough for the sector but we're glad they are acknowledging the difficulties [licensed hospitality] is in. It won't be until January that the funding reaches businesses' bank accounts, and we need to ensure that it goes directly to those most in need."

Image: Shutterstock

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