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Bar Q88
Photograph: Tatum Ancheta Bar Q88

How you can help Hong Kong's bar industry while social distancing

Support your local bar industry during these challenging times

By Tatum Ancheta
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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 and extended it until May 7. With the recent developments in the city, these venues are once again shutting their doors starting July 15 until August 4, pending further developments in the city.

While everyone needs to follow social distancing and be responsible for their movements, it is also essential that we do everything we can to help our favourite local bars so that they too can survive these challenging times. Here are a few ways you can still support local bars that don't require being physically present. 

RECOMMENDED: Click here if you're looking for ways to support the restaurant industry 

Here's how you can support the bar industry during COVID-19

pedestrian, COVID-19
pedestrian, COVID-19
Photograph: Ryoji Iwata

1. Be a responsible citizen when leaving your house

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. 

Prior to their temporary closures, 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.

"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.

Gift card COVID-19
Gift card COVID-19
Gift Card

2. Buy now and enjoy later 

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. "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. 

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drink cocktail
drink cocktail
Photograph: Jia Jia Shum

3. Get takeout or delivery

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 launched their bottled cocktails ready for you to take home. Customers can choose from various delicious mixes that you can stock up on and drink during your online home partiesThe Old Man also offers bottled cocktails that guests can order for delivery. 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. You may also check our regularly updated list of venues which are currently offering takeout and delivery. 

laptop, delivery
laptop, delivery
Photograph: NordWood Themes

4. Support their campaigns and initiatives

"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.  

Time Out Hong Kong recently launched Open for Business campaign, in partnership with Visa to support local food, drink, culture and entertainment across all districts of Hong Kong. Over the next few months, we're rounding up our editors' picks from each neighbourhood. Visit Time Out's Open for Business campaign page to flip through the recommendations and companies that we are supporting. 

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. 

You may also support Hong Kong's F&B industry through Save Hong Kong F&B, an alliance of over 300 bars and restaurants in the city who have been greatly affected by the ongoing crisis. The organisation has been supporting the F&B industry through voucher initiatives and lending their social and web platforms to highlight promotions and updates from participating businesses. Sign up for their newsletter to get regular updates and follow @savehkfnb on Instagram and Facebook for news and more information. 

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Thank you, COVID-19
Thank you, COVID-19
Photograph: Niclas Illg

5. Tell your favourite neighbourhood bars that you appreciate them

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 info.hk@timeout.com. We'll help in any way we can. 

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