About music noise and the Outdoor Activation Policy 

In September 2020 the Victorian Government announced grant and relief packages to help businesses adapt operations to outdoor dining and entertainment. This included support for live music venues to assist the state’s music industry rebuild and recover.

This 'Outdoor Activation Policy' acknowledges the challenges the hospitality and music industries face. It also acknowledges changes businesses must make to be viable after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

About new outdoor music guidance and who it applies to 

This page's guidance helps businesses that have modified "normal operations" to open in accordance with COVIDSafe measures. These are venues now operating outside and playing amplified live or recorded music. “Normal operations” means the normal operation of a venue before the first State of Emergency Declaration on 16 March 2020.

Outdoor eating and entertainment venues, such as bars, restaurants, cafes and other music events outdoors, must comply with the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act), the Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (the Regulations), and the Noise limit and assessment protocol for the control of noise from commercial, industrial and trade premises and entertainment venues (publication 1826) (Noise protocol).

The purpose of this framework is to enable entertainment businesses while protecting residents from levels of music noise that may impact the environmental values such as sleep in the night period, normal conversation, and other domestic and recreational activities within noise-sensitive areas.

To support the outdoor activation policy, EPA considers as 'outdoor venues' those that play music outdoors while open in accordance with COVIDSafe measures.

The noise requirements outlined in the Noise Protocol don't change for venues able to play music indoors, or within an open area of an indoor venue, such as a beer garden, consistent with normal operations.

This will ensure consistent operation of indoor venues for nearby noise-sensitive areas. 

This guidance began application from the start of the State of Emergency Declaration Extension on 11 October 2020, made under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. The Government has extended the state of emergency until 15 December 2021.

How outdoor music venues can comply with music noise regulations

Below is a summary of the requirements for outdoor venues outlined in the Regulations and the Noise protocol:

  • Music can be played between 12 pm and 11 pm. It cannot be played outside these hours, unless the venue has a permit for later operations.
  • Music that is played for a period of more than 8 hours requires a permit for longer duration operations.
  • Venues must keep music noise levels below the noise limit of 65 dB(A) when measured outdoors at a noise-sensitive area.
  • Venues can operate as often as needed if it maintains music noise at a noise-sensitive area at or below 55 dB(A). This is subject to any requirements such as planning approvals, local laws or liquor licensing.
  • the Regulations define music noise above 55dB(A) as a concert. In this case, the requirements for concerts outlined in the Regulations apply and you may need an outdoor music event permit. Outdoor venues can have six concerts in a financial year.

For the purpose of measuring noise levels at ‘noise-sensitive areas’, the Regulations define 'noise-sensitive areas' to include:

  • houses
  • hospital wards
  • bedrooms in hotels, motels, tourist establishments, aged care facilities and other institutional homes.

How all venues can manage their music noise

We encourage all venues to manage their music noise through:

  • stage location and positioning
  • loudspeaker height, position, and direction they face
  • noise complaints response processes, including contact number
  • choosing venue locations away from noise-sensitive areas
  • early engagement with neighbours, local businesses and noise-sensitive areas.

Find out more about how venues can manage their music noise

Read next


Handling waste during coronavirus

Residential noise

Reviewed 13 August 2021