Pubs are renovating their premises and upgrading their food handling practices to ensure they’re prepared to reopen when shutdown ends.
As social distancing measures will need to remain in place once pubs reopen, many are looking to how they can maximise the appeal of their beer gardens.
According to Australian National University microbiology professor Peter Collignon some of the measures needed in pubs moving forward could be limits on patron numbers, digital ordering on phones to avoid queuing at the bar and no indoor dining.
Among those in Australia looking to upgrade their venues are Merivale and Laundy Hotels, which is set to spend $35million redeveloping the Log Cabin Hotel in Penrith.
Perth’s The Claremont Hotel (pictured main) announced on its Facebook page: “We have been using this forced closure time to focus on our plans for the property, and what iteration of the pub we are going to serve up to you guys next.
“As a result of these chats, we have decided to bid farewell to The Claremont in its current format and will not be reopening as the trading restrictions lift.
“But, watch this space. After a prolonged period of closure and rebuild, we will be back! Bigger and better.”
In the UK, there’s a push for pubs to reopen in the next few weeks. Government adviser Professor Robert Dingwall told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Friday: “If it is a sunny weekend afternoon and the pub has a garden and the landlords are prepared to accept responsibility for not overcrowding that garden, I see no particular reason why it should not reopen.”
Pub cleaning frenzy
Australian Hotels Association CEO Stephen Ferguson told The Herald Sun that cleaning frequency, new food handling practices, reduced contact between staff and customers, and a greater uptake of electronic payments are among the measures being undertaken in preparation for reopening.
“All our venues are hygienic to begin with, they’re regulated by food standards and what have you,” he said.
“Having said that, obviously as it applies in people’s households, the frequency of cleaning will likely increase. There’ll be greater availability of hand sanitiser, there’ll be increased training for staff members before they come back.
“Obviously hand washing will be a far more frequent occurrence with staff and I also think there’ll be a greater uptake of electronic payments.”
Ferguson said he anticipated Australians would be keen to support their local when they are able to.
“When we’re able to you know, when the governments are able to release that a little bit, I’m sure that people are going to want to get together and see their friends and family and pubs will provide that very safe opportunity to do so,” he said.
“We think that, generally with good staff training, greater awareness from consumers about hygiene, we’ll be in a very good place to meet any standards that are set for us.”
Brewers are lending a helping hand too. Lion, for example, has been helping keep draught beer systems operational in the on-premise.
Lion Managing Director James Brindley said: “We have supported pubs with cleaning procedures for their draught beer systems to keep them in working order, ready and able to open up quickly again when the time comes. Our draught quality team has now cleaned 10,000 couplers and taps for our on-premise customers, and this number will keep growing.”
Pubs close doors permanently
Sadly, some pubs won’t be reopening their doors when restrictions lift.
Pubs are calling for the government to provide a pathway out of lockdown to prevent many closing permanently.
Australian Venue Company chief executive Paul Waterson said action is needed for the industry’s survival.
“If they are talking about a September reopening for our industry, you tell me whether BHP, Telstra or the Commonwealth Bank could survive zero revenue for six months with essentially 12 hours’ notice. I mean, in any industry, it’s catastrophic,” Waterson told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Among those that have fallen victim to COVID-19 are Perth’s The Flying Scotsman.
“During these tough times, it seems the landlord does not want us to renew the lease,” a Facebook post by the publican read.
“We will hold onto our memories of the Scotto forever and what an amazing ride it has been over the last 20 years.From all the team, we want to say thank you for making the Scotto a place where everyone felt welcome and had a good time.”
Last week, The King’s Head Hotel, which has been around since the 1870s, became the first Adelaide pub to close permanently.
“It’s been tough, there’s been a lot of tears,” publican Gareth Lewis (above) told 9News. “I’m sure there’s going to be more in the industry.”