Tightening government restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19 are making people go out less and less. On April 2, the government ordered all of Hong Kong's bars, pubs, and clubs to close their doors from April 3 until April 17. With this recent development, Hong Kong's bar scene will suffer significant losses, and some may not survive or come out of it the same way as before.
So, while everyone needs to follow social distancing and be responsible for their movements, it is also essential that we do everything we can to support our favourite local bars so that they too can survive these challenging times.
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Here's how you can support the bar industry during COVID-19
It is everyone's responsibility to apply healthy and hygienic practices. If you are feeling any symptoms, have travelled, or are currently under mandatory quarantine, you will do everyone around you a favour if you don't mingle outside.
Bars around the city have implemented intense hygiene practices and added extra measures to keep the virus at bay and protect their staff and customers, so it is up to us to do our share. Aside from making sure that their staff members wash their hands and regularly sanitise before touching food and drinks, they also provide enough masks for the entire bar team to keep the virus at bay. Some establishments even make staggered schedule reservations to ensure that groups will not be in the premises at the same time. Regular disinfection of public areas, tables, chairs, bathrooms, and bar counters are imposed. At Bar de Luxe tables are arranged with reasonable social distance to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. The Old Man checks guests’ temperatures, and anyone above 37.5 °C is not allowed to enter the premises. Tell Camellia checks temperatures and hands out sanitisers for anyone who enters their venue. The Diplomat no longer accepts walk-in guests and has implemented a reservation-only policy. At COA, temperature checks are also implemented. "I know that some COVID-19 cases don't have a fever and may have really mild symptoms of the virus. Therefore we encourage people even with the slightest symptoms to check with their doctor and self-isolate," shares Jay Khan, co-founder of Mexican bar COA.
Since February many bars in the city have temporarily closed due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. The ones who managed to stay afloat are offering alternative ways to support their businesses. "Right now the situation in HK is worse than February," shares Tell Camellia co-founder, Gagan Gurung. "Due to the second wave of COVID-19, a lot of people are very concerned about going out, which puts a significant impact on our small stand-alone business as there is less drinking traffic than our usual regular days."
Check with your favourite bars if they are currently offering any gift cards or vouchers. If you are a regular patron of a bar that has temporarily closed, call and check if you can purchase items for discounted rates and consume the product for when they reopen.
"As a small business and a stand-alone bar, we need all the help and support from our patrons," says Sandeep Hathiramani, co-founder of Tell Camellia. The bar is releasing vouchers at $250, $500, $1,000, and $2,000, that customers can buy and use at a later date. The Old Man (#1 Asia's 50 Best Bars 2019) will be launching drink vouchers that clients may purchase via online, on their Facebook pages, or by email. Purchased vouchers will have no expiration date so customers can use it anytime.
Enjoy your favourite cocktails in the comfort of your home. Many local bars are now offering pre-batched cocktails that you can take out or order for delivery. If you're willing to pick up the product, order ahead so you can avoid the line or the waiting. Tell Camellia just launched their bottled cocktails ready for you to take home. Customers can choose from four delicious mixes that you can stock up on and drink during your online home parties. See details here on how to order.
The Old Man will also offer takeaway cocktails that guests can order for pick up or have delivered. Selected cocktails will be available at a special price. Check their social pages for updates. Sake Central's retail section remains open for delivery of sake, shochu, Japanese whisky, craft beer, and artisan soft drinks.
"We would love our guests to help us – especially the team members – with the initiatives we have pulled in and support us as much as they can," says Agung Prabowo, founder and co-owner of The Old Man. The bar is collaborating with spirits distributor Proof & Company for a canned cocktail project that will be launching soon. They will also provide clients with a full experience by giving them garnish, ice/ice blocks and some disposable bar equipment together with clear instructions of how they can serve the drinks at home.
F&B industry leaders have also launched a petition calling for more support from the government. "Since the government is proposing a crackdown on alcohol, the best thing now would be to help sign the petition to spread awareness," says COA's Jay Khan.
The current situation is a challenging time for the bar industry, especially for the people who work behind the bar. "It has tremendously dampened our sales and the morale of the team as we are unable to achieve more revenue and at the same time we're afraid for our own safety as well as our family," shares Agung. "It is also not all about making money and saving costs. We just want our business to survive until this pandemic is over without affecting our beloved guests' experience and sacrificing the staff members," he adds.
Now is the time to appreciate them more than ever, if you have put off that positive review on their company pages or other review listing sites, get typing and help their sites rank well in search engines. Like and share their announcements on social media, this will help them reach a larger audience to support their current initiatives. Help boost their morale by reaching out to them, a thoughtful message to your favourite tipple maker will surely brighten their day.
For Hong Kong businesses, if you have stuff happening and you want people to know about it, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll help in any way we can.