Coronavirus: Guinness brewer launches $100m pub recovery fund

UK pubs can reopen from 4 July. Photo: Artur Widak/PA

Guinness maker Diageo (DGE.L) has announced a new $100m (£79.9m) programme to help pubs and bars across the world to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The two-year programme, named “Raising the Bar” will begin in July 2020 and will be rolled out in major hospitality centres across the globe, including New York, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Delhi, Nairobi, and Sydney.

In the UK and Ireland, the programme will be available to pubs and bars in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast.

A global survey of bar owners by Diageo found that the top priorities for venues reopening after lockdown were hygiene measures, digital support and practical equipment to transform how their outlets will work post-COVID-19. 

In the UK, Diageo will provide funding for “hygiene kits” with permanent sanitiser dispensers, medical grade hand sanitiser and a range of personal protection equipment such as masks and gloves.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson confirms pubs and restaurants to reopen from 4 July

The programme will also help pubs and bars to establish partnerships with online reservation and cashless payment systems to help maintain social distancing measures and funding for mobile bars and outdoor equipment.

The hospitality sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with lockdowns across the world forcing venues to close their doors.

Diageo is urging governments around the world to “provide long-term recovery packages to help the hospitality sector” and highlighted the “hundreds of millions of jobs” at risk.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday (23 June) confirmed that pubs and other leisure businesses can reopen from 4 July.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said over the weekend that the government was “looking at” requiring publicans to take the details of all pub-goers as part of contact tracing measures. The chief executive of pub group Marston’s (MARS.L) said the proposals were “bonkers.”

Johnson made no mention of check-in systems for pubs but said the government was publishing new advice to businesses on safely reopening. It includes avoiding face-to-face seating, improving ventilation, erecting protective screens, providing hand sanitiser, and changing shift patterns to limit the number of staff that overlap.

READ MORE: JD Wetherspoon pubs to reopen on 4 July

Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo said: “Pubs and bars sit at the heart of every community. We have launched “Raising the Bar” as so many outlets have been impacted by this crisis and badly need help to open their doors again.

“We are calling on governments around the world to provide long-term recovery packages to help the hospitality sector. These businesses play an essential role in bringing people together to socialise and celebrate — something that we have all missed so much during this terrible crisis — and sustain hundreds of millions of jobs, which provide a first foot on the employment ladder for young people.”