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 State Environment Protection Policy No. N-2 (SEPP N-2). SEPP N-2's purpose is to protect residents from levels of music noise that may impact the beneficial uses made of noise-sensitive areas. It also recognises community demand for a wide range of musical entertainment.

For the purpose of SEPP N-2, EPA considers as 'outdoor venues' those that play music outdoors while open in accordance with COVIDSafe measures. SEPP N-2 defines 'noise-sensitive areas' as places where people reside and sleep. This includes:

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

SEPP N-2 noise requirements 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 that venue for nearby noise-sensitive areas.

This guidance applies from the start of the State of Emergency Declaration Extension on 11 October 2020, made under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. It will continue to apply until 1 July 2021, when new environment protection laws are intended to commence under the Environment Protection Act 2017.

How outdoor music venues can comply with music noise regulations

Below is a summary of SEPP N-2 requirements for outdoor venues:

• 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.
• Where music is played for more than five hours, it must stop at 10pm, unless the venue has a permit for later 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.
• SEPP N-2 defines music noise above 55dB(A) as a concert. In this case, SEPP N-2 requirements for concerts apply and you may need an outdoor music event permit. Outdoor venues can have six concerts in a financial year.

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

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Reviewed 27 November 2020