- 17 Aug 20
The owner of Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh has criticised the Scottish government's decision to ban background music and TV volume in pubs and bars.
The Scottish government has introduced new guidelines for hospitality venues, and as of August 14th it is a requirement that no music should be played in the background in venues and pubs. The decision comes after Scotland saw a spike in Coronavirus transmission, including the recent outbreak in Aberdeen.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the restriction was put in place to prevent customers and guests from leaning into each other while speaking. Although she also said the government would be willing "to see if it might be possible to agree a more nuanced position based on an acceptable decibel level,” the decision faced some backlash from venue owners over the weekend.
In particular, Nick Stewart, the owner of Edinburgh's Sneaky Pete's said that the decision will “only drive people to seek music in uncontrolled environments instead, such as house parties. There should be a compromise, with background music set to a maximum of 70dB(A),” he added.
“Clearly, people shouldn’t be shouting over loud music at this time, so a nuanced position is exactly right. But that doesn’t justify starting with a ban. Background music is safer than a music ban, and with experts on our side, we can prove it.
“We don’t want loud music in pubs just yet, not until it’s safe. But zero music is not a safer approach either — because it’s proven that it’s the sound of other people’s voices that makes people talk more loudly, not controlled background music.
“Sadly, the government got this exactly backwards, so we hope they will review this as soon as possible. Metering is easy and can be done with a cheap device or a phone app. Licensing Standards Officers and Environmental Health Officers could do it just as easily as operators and staff.”
Stewart also added that he has brought together “expert opinions from the top acousticians in Scotland and the rest of the UK into a report that was brought to government by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association and the Scottish Beer and Pub Association”.
The Scottish government has agreed to consult with these experts, but first minister Sturgeon has said that "in the meantime, the rule is there should be no background music in pubs and restaurants.”