Seville prohibits ‘excessive’ outdoor noise

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Controversial new regulations will banish noisy nightlife and activities in the lively Andalucian city

It’s renowned for its lively cafés that straddle the streets, its vibrant pintxos bars and crowded terraces that buzz until dawn – but Seville is changing. Under new regulations announced by the council last week, ‘excessively loud’ activities in the city centre are now banned.

The restricted activities include outdoor screenings of sports games, rowdy dominos games, noisy singing or conversations, and the rolling of beer kegs and dragging of chairs. Playing loud music while driving is also banned, as is excessive engine revving and having a car alarm that goes off for over three minutes. Offenders will be fined, with penalties ranging from €300 to €300,000. Religious festivals and parades will continue as normal, however.

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The new regulations were introduced after years of pressure from city residents and campaign group Sevilla Sin Ruidos Ya (Seville Without Noise Now). 4,000 locals signed a petition last year, asking: “Can you imagine what’s it’s like to have 100 people under your window screaming as they watch a football match? Our children can’t perform well at school. When we leave for work in the morning we’re already exhausted.”

The regulations will be enforced by police officers; however, as officers are not equipped with noise-measuring devices, it is unclear how the penalties will be judged.

The changes are not without contention. “The regulation has a great politic controversy,” says Alicia Cáceres, tourist information officer of Visita Sevilla. “On one side it guarantees the right of peace for city residents. On the other side, terraces and bars are between the most important economic development in Seville.”

When the regulations were announced, city councillor Maximiliano Vílchez told the media: “It’s a balance between the right of residents to get a little rest and the development of economic activities.”

For the travellers who hope to experience Seville’s energy and lively entertainment, it’s disappointing news. But Cáceres has reassuring words: “Don’t worry: no one tourist will be prosecuted for making noise. The regulation is focused in bars and restaurants owners, because they must take care that their customers do not disturb local residents.”