Drinkaware offers practical advice for licensed venues ahead of reopening

Many pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK will be starting to reopen this weekend. While opportunities to meet safely will be cause for celebration, alcohol education charity, Drinkaware, is advising venues to make sure they are prepared.

Adam Jones, Director of Partnerships at Drinkaware says: “The majority of people who head to pubs, bars and restaurants will want to enjoy themselves and keep safe. But the reality is, meeting up with friends and family will be a different experience to the one we’re used to. Relaxed licensing rules, social distancing and transport limitations will all present issues for operators. Some people may even have a different tolerance to alcohol now than they did four months ago. In this new normal however, there are some practical measures operators can put in place to help their customers have a good experience.”

Sue Nelson, Executive Officer for the Institute of Licensing comments: “The Institute of Licensing is keen to see our pubs, bars and restaurants open again in a safe and responsible manner. They host so many of the good things in life: friends, family and fun, so Drinkaware’s message of ‘drink responsibly’ has our full support.” 

Drinkaware’s advice for licensed venues:

Pavement drinking could make it harder to spot vulnerable customers

Relaxing the licensing rules means that in some places, people may be able to drink within a perimeter of a venue, like on pavements, in pub car parks or on terraces. This means vulnerable people may be harder to spot, such as those who are underage and who might be having drinks bought for them, and others who may experience alcohol poisoning, becoming victims of aggression or even sexual harassment or assault.

What can operators do?

Adam says: “Staff will need to be more vigilant than usual in spotting vulnerable customers. Remember that the number of drinks a person has had isn’t the only indicator that they may have had too much – alcohol affects us all differently. Have an escalation plan in place and make sure your team knows how to deal with, and report, an incident appropriately.”

Limitation on travel options must not cause an increase in drink-driving

Some public transport journeys have been affected by the pandemic and many people might choose to drive to venues instead. Because there is no fool proof way of drinking and staying under the driving limit, it is important that people don’t drink before getting behind the wheel.

What can operators do?

Adam says: “Drinkaware always advises people not to drink at all if you’re driving, and venues must encourage their clientele not to drink and drive. If customers do choose to drink, help them find alternative and safe routes home, and make local travel advice easily accessible, such as providing travel information on your website. Our campaign against drink-driving, Home and dry supports venues to encourage customers to stay alcohol-free when driving. You can download these assets for free from our website.”

Alcohol lowers inhibitions making social distancing difficult to manage

Alcohol can affect people’s inhibitions, and this may make social distancing harder to manage. When we drink, we can miss social and environmental cues that help us to interpret situations rationally – and this could lead to some people behaving in ways they wouldn’t when sober.

What can operators do?

Adam says: “Make plans to help customers with social distancing and consider how many members of support staff you can employ to safely monitor it. In our own experience working with the night-time economy, it can help to have staff briefed to spot low level anti-social behaviour, like arguments, and make sure they know how to diffuse or escalate to senior staff.”

Alcohol is dehydrating

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages the kidneys to lose extra fluid. We tend to sweat and go the toilet more when we drink. This combination means we lose more fluid than we take in and become dehydrated unless we replace that lost fluid by drinking water.

What can operators do?

Adam says: “Proprietors should make water available and easily accessible while following the government’s guidelines for social distancing and hygiene to help reduce the risk of customers becoming unwell due to dehydration. It’d also help if staff were proactive in offering water or displaying reminders for patrons to keep hydrated.”

Remember that it’s the social connections that people have missed – not alcohol

Pubs, bars and restaurants give people a unique opportunity for social connections, which is what many of us have missed while on lockdown. Alcohol is not a compulsory component.

What can operators do?

Adam says: “Have a good selection of lower strength alcohol and alcohol-free drinks available and on your menus. If your venue offers mixed drinks or cocktails, make sure you have non-alcoholic options too. Perhaps even consider special offers. Offering ‘low and no’ is a great way to support customers to reduce their alcohol consumption and also cater to the millions of people who choose not to drink.”

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