Local bars get raw deal in Sunday music law

| 15/06/2022 | 158 Comments
Alden McLaughlin MP

(CNS): Former premier Alden McLaughlin (RED) has urged government to amend the Music and Dance Law to level the playing field for local bars because, unlike restaurants and bars in hotels, they are not permitted to play any music on Sundays. Speaking in Parliament last week, McLaughlin said many stand-alone bars that are Caymanian-owned are losing money because of this.

Tabling his first private member’s motion since the elections in May 2021, he asked the government to change the legislation to include these licensed bars and allow them to play low-level music, provided it cannot be heard outside, putting them in the same position as restaurants and hotels.

He said he did not know what the rationale was at the time the law was drafted not to allow regular bars to play music, but it has led to a situation where the bars and restaurants along the Seven Mile strip can play music and have dancing on Sundays, “while local bars, which are Caymanian owned, without exception are not allowed to have even background music”.

They were losing out and it was leading to complaints, McLaughlin said, noting that what is known to be his own local bar, Country and Western, cannot play any music, but anyone can leave, get in their car, drive to a bar in Seven Mile and hear music.

He said he did not believe the law impacted churchgoers, as he doubted that anyone turning up at a liquor-licensed establishment on a Sunday evening had any intention to go to church, even if maybe they should.

As government accepted the motion, Commerce Minister André Ebanks noted that 58 bars were unfairly impacted and said he, too, could not understand the logical reason for leaving these bars out. But he said the law had been changed piecemeal over the years, so he wanted to take a holistic approach to amend the law, including addressing how government measures decibels.

But McLaughlin argued against waiting for a complete review of the law, especially the question of measuring noise levels since it had taken more than 20 years to get the administrative arm of government to come up with a measure relating to decibels outside.

He said the fix for the question of music just required government to add stand-alone bars to the background music provision; otherwise, the local bars would face more inequity. In the last few months, police officers have been enforcing the provision and issuing warnings to bar owners. McLaughlin said he had been reliably informed that the police had been instructed to begin enforcing this provision, adding that he had been in a bar when this had happened.

“This is going to continue to be a very irksome and unfair situation, in particular as these are all Caymanian establishments, if this is not dealt with swiftly,” he said. “I am fearful when I hear the minister say that this is going to require a complete overhaul of the legislation, for I know too well that he may demit office before that is completed,” he said.

McLaughlin said he was grateful for the government’s support of the motion but disappointed it was going to take the outlined approach, and he asked the minister to rethink this issue.

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Category: Business, Food and Drink, Laws, Politics

Comments (158)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If this is the best he’s has managed to come up with after all this time in opposition then no wonder the country is a shambles. I like to think of him pondering over this silently for months and thinking ‘yes, now is the time to unleash my great plan’

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why didn’t he do that when he was in government ?

  3. Anonymous says:

    No weed no vote

  4. Anonymous says:

    The simple things matter as well. I for one would say ppm at least got something done. I can’t think of a single initiative pact has completed and the island is dirtier than ever. Bring back ppm minus Mr mac

    • Anonymous says:

      PPM were horrible. If PACT is only a placeholder, which keeps PPM out of power until a better group bringing real change can takeover in 2025, then so be it. PPM have no business thinking that they can ever be trusted to be in power again.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is solid gold, – Sir Alden The QC, from inception to tabling the motion would have had plenty of time to mull this one over, re-evaluate, question the carriage, chaw over the potential mockery and yet spurred on in his own best judgement he went ahead and did it 👑🏆😂

  6. Retail sales person so sick of the injustice says:

    Government is so obtuse and tone deaf that it is shocking! Do they think anyone cares about music when they cannot pay their light bill? Of course not, because they make bank off of our backs, and never even consider it. They get payed even when they do an abysmal job. No consequences for them. So disgusting.

  7. Retail sales person so sick of the injustice says:

    Really? This is the issue? Not inflation? Not silly mask mandates? Not the crappy education our children receive? Not tourism being hogtied? Not crazy road closures? Not life crippling traffic? Not the inability of any young person ever owning a home? Not being proactive? Not completely flipping blowing the one small window we had to be competitive in the world market? Nope. This is our issue. No wonder we are in the mess we are in.

  8. Anonymous says:

    As I lay in bed last night with no A/C on to keep my light bill down, thinking who I can carpool with to save on gas and what food items I can do without, I suddenly thought, but wait, how will I make it without music on Sundays!

    • Anonymous says:

      You can afford a bed? Lucky.

      • Anonymous says:

        The guy sleeping under the Catboat Club seemingly can’t.

        Anyone heard from Kenny recently?

        • Anonymous says:

          No worries. They can simoly replay the film on the housing crisis at the Camana Bay theater, which motivated those with means to remedy this injustice.

    • Retail sales person so sick of the injustice says:

      You are one thousand percent right. Spot on. That is the choice, isn’t it. Food or shelter. NOT that Alden, Wayne or any of their cronies could ever grasp that.

    • Anonymous says:

      The tourism and real estate industry would like you to keep it down.

      Repeat after me. “POVERTY IS JUST LIFE” And stay away from the high end hotels and guests.

      • Anonymous says:

        Will you serfs keep it down?! Think of the poor real estate agents. We dont want you to tarnish our high end luxury tax free image!

    • Anonymous says:

      These are Caymanian owned business with owners wondering the same thing., how to pay their light bills. Your reality and there’s is different. Caymanians are so quick to talk about themselves and their needs and their reality, that is why we never progress as A people. Too busy thinking “ well what about ME” “crabs in a bucket”…. As for Alden no different, he is concerned about his need for Sunday Music. He should have brought motions with an S, if he was concerned about the caymanian people.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Now Alden is trying to act like a man of the people, after he catered to the elite and the Lodge, especially was the beckoning call of Dart. He was worse than MacKeeva. At least MacKeeva still cared about Caymanians. Alden needs to retreat back to his farm in East End and stick to that. If he does, I will even purchase fresh produce from him.

    • Catering staff says:

      And let me tell you, none of those lodge-holes ever once thanked nor tipped their servers. I waited on those losers at least a dozen times in the 2000’s.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Lodge brothers are self-serving and power-hungry men, who only care about maintaining power and making money for themselves.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It angers me that the government wastes time on this sort of non-issue when the islands and people have far greater real concerns. How are we going to afford rent, food, medical care? What about the toxic chemicals spewing from the dump? Why is our internet unaffordable? How can the rebuild cost of my home be twice what I paid for it 3 months ago so now my insurance premiums have to double? What about the thousands living at or below the poverty line on our islands – many of them imported labor servicing the homes of our richest families as housekeepers and nannies? The divide between rich and poor, those that live in luxury and those that cannot afford the basics – that is what needs to be urgently addressed – not music in bars. Get a grip!

    • A small business Bar Owner says:

      It angers you that this was discussed because you are not a small business owner of a bar. I am and I am happy it was mentioned – it feeds my family and pays my mortgage. I also employ four staff, two are Caymanians. If you are a Caymanian owner of a local bar, or a Caymanian who patronises these bars you would be pleased that this is being discussed. Weekends are the main earning days for bars and we are losing patrons to bars at restaurants and hotels. These larger bars have carveouts that allow soft music on Sundays and all we are asking is to give us the same opportunities. Level the playing field.

      Regarding the rising cost of living, I watched the debate in Parliament and this was raised by the Opposition – and the Government was forced to say what they were doing. I say it again – they were forced by the opposition to talk about the cost of living. Roy Mctaggart not only asked the government what they were doing about it but gave them some suggestions.

      Speaking for myself, listening to the Premier it was obvious that nothing much was being planned by the government and they had to cobble together all kinds of stuff as to how they were supposedly helping. Amazingly some of the programmes they included as a help will be killed off this month by them.

      Anyway – this Caymanian small business bar owner is grateful for the Opposition looking out for small businesses. Thank you Alden.

      • G says:

        get over yourself.

      • Anonymous says:

        To A small business Bar Owner
        Why are you making this a ‘Caymanian’ issue? It makes me sick that every topic that comes up has to become a them versus us issue – and Caymanians are always thinking they are more deserving of fairness or equal treatment than anyone else who works equally as hard. Allowing or not allowing music on Sunday is not an issue of Caymanians versus expats. No one is deliberately targeting Caymanians.

        • Small business bar owner. says:

          11:09. Remove the word Caymanian and tell me what part of my argument as to why this is needed to be debated is irrelevant? I am a small business owner and I am a Caymanian. My patrons are also majority Caymanians. Those are two facts. I expect my Caymanian parliamentarian to address the matters that concern voters – who are also Caymanians. That’s it. I’m watching CNN and some says politicians need to address the concern of Americans. We in Cayman accept that as expected. Yet say a similar thing here and someone takes this as somehow being against expats.

          However note that I titled myself small business bar owner. I was not making this a Caymanian expat issue. I never mentioned expats at all. But you did. You seem to have taken it that way because of your own biases. Look at yourself first before accusing others falsely. I feel sorry for you if you go around with a chip on your shoulder being angry. Sad.

          • Anonymous says:

            We are expected to believe that your Caymanian customers are going somewhere else on Sunday, because they can listen to low-level music?

            What complete bollocks. Tell the truth. Every place that wants to play music on Sunday does so, and there is zero enforcement. Anywhere.

      • Anonymous says:

        If I go to a bar it is to have a drink, not listen to music. Strange as it may seem, I do not think I am alone.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. Politicians thrive on quibbling about irrelevance to avoid real issues that require intelligence and decision.

      Just please give us daylight savings time.


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