Culinary no-no #668


Pubs are plentiful in Scotland.

About 1 every 10 square miles.

They draw large happy crowds.

Food, drink, and of course, music.

That was before COVID-19.

Pubs are open, but Scotland is no different than other places where bars and restaurants have become the favorite whipping boys of politicians and regulators. Economy killers have blithely enacted measures that make operating these establishments nearly impossible.

Physical distancing, capacity management and no crowding measures have been in place for some time. Scottish Ministers have added some new stipulations, and they’re not going over too well. They’ve published the following:

It is acknowledged that where background music and entertainment from TV broadcasts and other media are a central feature to a business operation there will be a particular challenge, but these measures are being taken in the interests of public health and the ability of the sector to remain open.  They will not be kept in place any longer than is necessary but for now safety is the priority.

Measures that take effect 14 August 2020

Noise control – no background music and televisions on mute and sub-titled

While previously low level music/volume was permitted it is now necessary to ensure every effort is made to reduce noise levels to a minimum in hospitality premises so people do not need to raise voices to be heard or get closer to others – this presents an increased risk of transmission that must be mitigated.   As noise control is a complex area with many variables, further work is required to understand how it can be managed safely and consistently across the sector so that it does not pose a risk.  The Scottish Government will work with industry on this issue and it will be kept under review but a cautious approach is required at this time in the interest of public health.       

Noise control: loud behaviour

Where customers start to shout or sing this should be challenged.  Clear signage can help with messaging to inform customers of expected standards of behaviour.

Seems like so many other COVID-19 restrictions. Overreach. Sacrilegious impositions for pubs.

Here’s the exquisite The Witchery by the Castle restaurant in Edinburgh.

Owner James Thomson called the new guidance ridiculous.

“Having no music at all is the kiss of death in terms of atmosphere for us and there is no logic behind such a blanket ban. We need background music to kill the deathly hush as people feel they have to start whispering when a restaurant is quiet. Diners want to eat out in a place with atmosphere, not a library,” said Thomson.

Rod Dos Santos runs the Southern Cross Cafe in Edinburgh.

“Customers expect to experience what they have done previously. This is a ridiculous situation,” he said. “Background music is a talking point and customers are often asking me what band is playing in the background and it starts a conversation, which is what I love.”

Andy McCartney, who owns seven restaurants and pubs in Glasgow said,
“It feels like one step into the graveyard. I have been in a few places today which are not playing music and it feels like that last half hour at the end of the night when they turn the music off and are closing up — but all of the time. For bars and restaurants, music is a critical element of creating an atmosphere.”

Finally, Scottish government officials are trying to sound sympathetic. In their new posted guidelines they write:

They are not designed to add unnecessary restrictions to the hospitality experience nor hold back business operations.

That is so much rotten haggis.


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ICYMI, Culinary no-no #667

One thought on “Culinary no-no #668

  1. Pingback: Culinary no-no #669 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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