As part of the campaign, pubs across the island of Ireland, north and south, are coming together to simultaneously switch on their Christmas lights this Friday November the 20th at 5pm.
Turning their lights on early ahead of the crucial Christmas period is designed not only to highlight the place of local pubs in the fabric of Irish society but also the struggle that publicans, bar-staff and their families face in order to keep the lights on.
In many villages and townlands across the country the local pub may be the only beacon of light on dark Winter nights and their prolonged closure due to Covid-19-enforced lockdowns serves as a physical reminder of the impact that the pandemic has had not just on the pub trade and wider hospitality industry but also on communities up and down the country.
One-third of pubs in Dublin have now been closed continuously for the last eight months and 50% of pubs throughout Ireland have been allowed open for only two of the last 37 weeks after enduring at least four delays to reopening over the course of the Summer under the most severe hospitality lockdown in Europe.
Pubs across Ireland have put in place an extensive range of measures to reopen safely, from implementing Social Distancing to following the strictest sanitisation protocols, arranging extra staff-training, the provision of physical infrastructure such as Perspex screens, increasing signage and using new systems, tools and technology to create safe socialising environments in their outlets.
“The Guinness Raising the Bar fund has already begun supporting pubs with a variety of measures to assist them with safe reopening,” said Diageo Ireland’s Corporate Relations Director Liam Reid, “We’ve also launched the Raising the Bar Helpline to provide emotional support and financial information to publicans, bar-staff and their immediate families who we know are suffering disproportionately at this time while they once again wait for the chance to reopen safely.”
As part of the campaign, eight ‘beacon’ pubs across the Island of Ireland have already been lit-up with support from the Guinness Raising the Bar fund.
Pubs like Grogan’s on Dublin’s South William Street, The Garrick in Belfast or the pub from the iconic Guinness Christmas TV ad J O’Connell’s – ‘The Yank’s’ – in Skryne, County Meath, have been decked out in their festive finest for a film to capture the real human stories of publicans, their staff and families at each pub and the effort they’ve gone to in order to be ready to reopen and welcome customers back safely.
The film premieres on the Guinness, LVA, VFI and Hospitality Ulster channels this Thursday and the public will be encouraged to show their support for a safe reopening of their local by posting photos of their favourite pub lit up for Christmas alongside #KEEPTHELIGHTSON on their social media channels. “Whether it’s physical infrastructure such as PPE, Perspex screens and hand sanitiser or training for staff” says VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribbin, “we know that they’ve done what’s necessary to ensure that pubs can reopen safely alongside other sectors such as retail. Now all that these locals around the country want is the chance to reopen safely on time for Christmas.”
LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe added, Before the Covid-19 pandemic, six out of 10 people typically visited their local pub at least once a month. As part of this joint campaign with the Guinness Raising the Bar fund we hope that the public will also show their support for a safe reopening of their local as we enter a Christmas period that will be decisive in keeping the lights on in pubs around Ireland.”
Guinness’s €14 million Raising the Bar fund is a two-year programme that has been available since June 2020 to assist pubs in safely reopening.
Outlets can still register to receive supports by logging on to www.mydiageo.com.
Almost 5,000 outlets across Ireland have already registered and availed of supports from the Raising the Bar fund since its launch in June. Any pub that registers with the programme will receive a free reopening essentials kit, including 25 litres of hand sanitiser, serving trays, uniforms & take way cups. They may also be eligible to receive free outdoor equipment such as parasols, windbreakers and awnings as well as support with staff-training.