Starting April 19, Minneapolis bars and clubs that feature live music will have to offer free earplugs to patrons under an ordinance approved Friday by the Minneapolis City Council.
The ordinance is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. It will apply to about 185 bars, clubs and performance venues as a condition of their liquor licenses.
The earplugs will be provided to the businesses at no cost thanks to a coalition of private funders, including the clothing company Locally Grown, Globally Known.
Its president, Brian Felsen, says the goal is to make hearing protection as accessible as possible.
"It's much easier for people to introduce it to their own lives if it's something that they don't have to pay for," Felsen said. "It shouldn't come down to, 'Oh, I don't want to pay a dollar for the earplugs' when that dollar is an investment not only in their ability to hear but their hearing health and their well-being."
Some downtown clubs opposed the ordinance because they currently make thousands of dollars a year selling earplugs.
The ordinance amounts to government overreach, said Carol Lynn Miller, past president of the Minneapolis Hospitality Association.
It's important that city leaders realize "we pay an awful lot in taxes" Miller said. "It's important to us that they know we're losing revenue."