Alcohol laws | Concert organisers to pay €50,000 guarantee if minors are admitted

Concert venues admitting minors of 17 or under must cordon off bars that serve alcohol, and even pay €50,000 bank guarantee.

Concert organisers will have to pay a €50,000 bank guarantee in new rules governing the sale of alcohol at concert venues where minors are admitted.

In the latest tweak to entertainment laws after the fiasco at the James Blunt concert in April, where no alcohol was served on order of the police, a new legal notice now requires concert organisers to cordon off bars if they admit persons under the age of 17.

Specifically, persons under 17 will be allowed inside a concert venue provided that alcoholic beverages are sold in a physically separate area of the concert venue, to which the minors have no access.

Additionally the Commissioner of Police may require proprietors to provide a bank guarantee of €50,000 for the purpose of guaranteeing that no alcohol is sold or consumed by minors.

But in a strange twist, the new laws also extend the powers of the Commissioner of Police to refuse permits for concerts or dance parties when performing artists have a criminal record.

Under the Maintenance of Good Order at Place of Entertainment laws – which were mainly aimed at raves and dance parties – the Commissioner could refuse permits if he is “not satisfied that the character and antecedents” of applicants, proprietors and disc jockeys did not give “sufficient guarantee that no drug or other abuses will take place during the entertainment.”

Now the new amendments add “performing artists” to the discretion of the Commissioner, but this will exclude actors performing in a play “other than a musical”. No specific reason is given as to why the police deems the screening of musicians and actors and dancers in musicals so important.

This power has had negative effects on performers with a drug history such as “DJ N’Heaven” Alan Ciantar, who in 2005 was refused police clearance to play at the Tribù festival because of a conditional discharge in 1996 for possession of cannabis resin and cocaine.

Under the rules, if applied consistently, performers like hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg who headlined last week’s Isle of MTV would have not stepped on the island: he served time for drug possession and firearm possession apart from other criminal charges.

Blunt fiasco

The new laws are a response to the outcry caused by an alcohol ban at the James Blunt concert in April when in an unprecedented move, the police interpreted the ban on sale of alcohol to under-18s as a ban covering the entire concert precincts – even if alcohol was readily available outside.

And at last week’s Isle of MTV, a free concert open to all ages that is organised under the auspices of the Malta Tourism Authority, alcohol was only available at the VIP bar or outside by mobile kiosks - the latter made alcohol freely available to minors according to onlookers.

A spokesman for the Parliamentary Secretariat for Tourism and Culture had already said that discussions were ongoing on how to “strike a reasonable balance between the interests of adult concert-goers and those of minors, especially where the concert is targeting a family audience.”

The government entities who made the amendments are the Culture Secretariat, the Small Business Secretariat and the Home Affairs Ministry.

The present law states that persons under the age of 17 shall not be allowed inside a place of entertainment, and young persons over the age of 17 years must produce and show their identity card to the proprietor.

The minimum age was revised upwards from 16 to 17 in 2009 to be consistent with the revised minimum drinking age.

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Yesterday I went to the Marsovin Wine fest - I wonder did they pay the 50000eur. I know I saw quite a lot of youngsters walking around with a wine glass in their hand, although to say the truth it is difficult to say if a youth is 16 or 17 since one day might do all the difference.
U halluna ha nghixu, dawn ic cuccati minn johlomhom, issa mela meta jkun hemm xi party tal precett jew tal grizma ha jkollna nhallsu €50000 garanzija? X`pajjiz tad dwejjaq sirna kull cuc pruzuntuz li johlom xi hmerija naghmluha regola. Ara fil festi dak xejn, hemm hekk kollox ninxew, il ligijiet u ir regoli kollha, ja ipokriti arroganti!!