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  • Writer's pictureJigsaw Acoustics

Covid-19 Bar Noise Limit

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

As of 28.09.20. all pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants in England must not play music over 85dB(A). The legislation (shown here) was amended to include the following clauses:

'(1C) A person responsible for carrying on a business of a public house, café, restaurant or bar (including a bar in a hotel or members’ club) must, during the emergency period, ensure that no music is played on the premises which exceeds 85db(A) when measured at the source of the music.

(1D) Paragraph (1C) does not apply to any performance of live music.

(1E) In paragraph (1C), “db(A)” means A-weighted decibels.”.'

The explanation is given as:

'Regulation 2(5) introduces new requirements to take measures to stop singing and dancing, subject to exemptions, and to not play music which exceeds 85db(A).'

If we dissect this legislation a little, hopefully it will help to demystify what it means. I think it's clear which type of premises is being referred to and the emergency period is applicable until the foreseeable future.

Does 'music' include that played by a DJ? Or just the background music played in the venue?

85dB(A) is the A-weighted sound pressure level. See here for an explanation of this. The following shows where this level sits in terms of loudness.

Typical noise levels in decibels (HSE, 2008, p.11)

In this way we can see that the 85dB(A) may have been referenced using the upper exposure action value of the Noise at work regulations (shown here)

Average speech is between 40 and 50dB but if you were to include music playing up to 85dB(A) then this would cause an increase in the sound levels.

Where should the source be measured ? This is usually specified in any measurement situation and is crucial to the result.

The whole situation seems to be dividing opinion, as seen in the Liverpool Echo here And here in "JOE"

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