The Government Guidance in relation to re-opening contains a short section on providing entertainment. In essence, it creates 2 categories of entertainment: Activities that ‘should not be permitted’ and all other types of entertainment.

Entertainment that should not be permitted

Below is the list of entertainment not permitted, where they would take place in front of a live audience:

  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • Music

Other entertainment

This is not defined and so would include any other kind of entertainment not listed above. However, the Guidance recommends that in providing any kind of entertainment, steps need to be taken to ensure that it does not encourage any of the following:

  • Shouting, chanting or singing
  • Activity that would make normal levels of conversation difficult
  • Close contact
  • Communal dancing

This will present difficulties, for instance in showing live football (at all) or providing music. Both have been specifically highlighted in the Guidance as being likely to be problematic. Whilst not specifically part of the ‘not permitted’ list, at the very least provision of either will require individual risk assessing and additional measures being put in place to ensure that the provision of the entertainment is not likely to undermine mitigation at the premises.

Below, we look at different popular entertainments in licensed premises that are not specifically prohibited and give an overview of possible issues and whether there are potential mitigations that can be put in place. This is not a comprehensive list, but a few suggestions in relation to how mitigation can be developed.

Live football on TV

We have prepared a separate note on showing live football, given the likely practical issues with showing it.

Other broadcasts

Other broadcasts could include sports, live TV programmes, news etc.

Likely issues

  • Crowding around TVs
  • Raised voices

Potential mitigation

  • Additional/ reserved seating for customers watching TV
  • Low or no volume/subtitles

Popular sporting events later in the year or pubs showing racing may want to consider enhanced measures if the events, such as for live football, are likely to be popular.

Showing films

Showing films such as having cinema nights may require additional measures along the lines of live football and live broadcasts. In particular there is likely to be issues around volume and ensuring voices are not raised, especially if the film is shown in a room where not all attendees are there to watch it. Where a separate room is used, such as a function room and attendees are there specifically to watch the film, social distancing is essential. You will not want people moving furniture, so you may want to only have pre-bookings for attendance, so you can arrange chairs and tables for the size of groups and the overall numbers attending.

Recorded music via in house system

Any entertainment that causes customers to raise their voices should not be undertaken. As such, the usual playlists and volume levels for such music will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Likely issues

  • Raised voices
  • Potential for dancing

Potential mitigation

  • Additional seating on dancefloors
  • Low volume not to be adjusted during the course of the evening or during busy periods
  • No ‘high energy’ playlists or songs played that might cause singalongs.

Juke boxes

We suggest that the need for physical distancing and removal/ reduction in surfaces that customers and staff need to have contact with would prevent the use of a traditional wall-mounted jukebox. Modern jukeboxes where customers request songs by app could be permitted, but again the issue of volume may well mean that customers will be frustrated if they cannot hear their selections. As such, question whether there is any value in offering such service.


Recorded music is distinct from live performances unless there is an MC element that would prohibit such performances in any event. However, aside from volume levels and the potential for initiating dancing, the issue here is the use of equipment and the potential for creating points of interaction between customers and DJs that might impede social distancing or require handling of equipment. It is suggested that taken together, the use of DJs may well undermine any mitigation measures in place and should not therefore be undertaken.


For the following reasons, we suggest that there are no mitigation measures that would permit karaoke at the current time, whether or not it is expressly prohibited as being live music.

  • Shared equipment (microphones)
  • Singing (raised voices)
  • Sharing song request pads or song catalogues
  • Social distancing between singers and karaoke operator


We think that quizzes are permissible as they do not fall within live entertainment. However, careful consideration will be needed to try to mitigate potential concerns:

Likely issues

  • Customer numbers
  • Ensuring teams are from the permitted groups (2 households, socially distanced), support bubbles or up to 6 persons from any household (outside only and socially distanced)
  • Raised voices
  • Social distancing between members of a team
  • Providing equipment such as pens. Paper, picture round sheets
  • Marking answers
  • Giving out prizes

Potential mitigation

  • Pre-booked teams only
  • Questions pre-recorded to avoid shouting questions
  • No shouting out answers
  • No handing out or swapping papers/ pens
  • Bringing own paper/ pens
  • self-marking
  • Rules on engagement with host to avoid shouted answers and challenges
  • Prizes sent electronically where possible or by delivery service

Steps set out in the guidance

The Guidance sets out the steps that will usually be needed before putting on any entertainment:

  • Determining the viability of entertainment and maximum audience numbers consistent with social distancing outside and within venues and other safety considerations
  • Where mitigation is considered to be ineffective, preventing entertainment, such as broadcasts, that is likely to encourage audience behaviours increasing transmission risk
  • Reconfiguring indoor entertainment spaces to ensure customers are seated rather than standing.
  • Encouraging use of online ticketing and online or contactless payments for entertainment where possible.
  • Communicating clearly to customers the arrangements for entertainment
  • Supervising with additional staff if appropriate.  


Factors will be different depending on the nature of the premises, the type of activity and likely audience. Any activity will need risk assessing prior to being provided, but taking a sensible and pragmatic approach to your customer journey will stand you in good stead.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at July 2020. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions

Date published

02 July 2020


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