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How closing bars & restaurants damages mental health

The closure of cafés, bars, and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected adults’ social and mental wellbeing across the globe as they were denied the opportunity to socialise, according to YouGov polling and focus groups by WorldThinks.

The YouGov polling of 11,400 adults (1041 in Australia), commissioned by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) of who Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) is a member of their Partnership Council, comes after an extended period during which lockdown and curfew restrictions have limited opportunities for communities to socialise in many countries across the globe.

Two-thirds (67%) of adults surveyed in Australia said the closure of hospitality venues during the pandemic negatively impacted the social and mental wellbeing of the general population, while almost half (45%) agreed that their own social and mental wellbeing had been harmed.

When asked what factors have most impacted on their happiness since restrictions lifted, almost half (49%) of respondents said the opportunity to socialise with friends and family outside the home.

These findings are explored in IARD’s new report: Insights: The value of hospitality venues to social and mental wellbeing.

Focus groups and polling reflect the key contribution of the hospitality sector in providing spaces for people to socialise and relax, contributing to social and mental wellbeing.

Polling responses recognise the positive impact of actions taken to mitigate COVID-19 within the hospitality sector. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Australian survey respondents said increased safety measures have improved hospitality venues.

Andrew Wilsmore, CEO of Alcohol Beverages Australia said: “As Australia approaches the 80% vaccination rate of the national roadmap, we look forward to bringing Australian friends and families together again in our hospitality and tourism venues during the festive season.

“Nearly half a million jobs were lost in hospitality and tourism at the height of the pandemic. As international and domestic borders reopen, we encourage Australians to embrace our award-winning hospitality and tourism businesses as a way of re-connecting while also supporting venues that have struggled during lockdowns.”

Henry Ashworth, IARD President and CEO, noted: “The survey work highlights just how essential cafés, bars, and restaurants are to communities and our social and mental wellbeing as individuals. As well as being major employers, they make our communities vibrant and enjoyable places to live and work – creating important spaces for us to socialise and relax. It’s now clear that having experienced life without hospitality venues, we all have a renewed appreciation of just how vital a role they play.

“The introduction of additional safety measures, such as improved cleanliness, has set the stage for us to rebuild a safe and thriving café, bar, and restaurant culture, which has been so sorely missed by so many. It is incumbent on us all to enjoy these spaces responsibly as they reopen, to benefit our social and mental wellbeing and that of whole communities alongside protecting our physical health.”

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