As the reopening date for pubs and restaurants comes closer, Guinness has launched a €14 million fund to help them recover from the COVID-19 lockdown. The fund will be dispersed as part of a two-year programme Guinness are calling Raising the Bar, which will start in July and will focus on helping pubs across the island of Ireland recover and address compliance issues throughout the reopening process.

Diageo, the maker of Guinness, designed this programme as a result of a global survey they conducted among bars and pubs worldwide. In the survey, bar owners were asked to identify their needs and the main areas of support they would require during the reopening process. The results show that top priorities are the introduction of hygiene measures, digital support and practical equipment to transform how outlets will work in a post-COVID world.

Raising the Bar

In Ireland, the Raising the Bar programme will focus on providing practical equipment and providing the support needed for outlets to operate on a safe and sustainable basis. Donall O'Keeffe, CEO of the Licensed Vitner's Association, says the fund is a welcome initiative among members.

"The bar sector needs support measures such as this to get back up and running and this fund will really help our members to achieve that," he says in correspondence with Irish Country Living.

Having launched on 24 June, publicans across the country can register for the programme online. Bar owners will receive regular updates on best practices and can participate in global surveys to share insights. Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, says that pubs are at the heart of Irish communities and need the support of the government, as well.

"We have launched Raising the Bar as so many outlets have been impacted by this crisis and badly need help to open their doors again," he says.

“We are calling on governments around the world to provide long-term recovery packages to help the hospitality sector. These businesses play an essential role in bringing people together to socialise and celebrate – something that we have all missed so much during this terrible crisis – and sustain hundreds of millions of jobs (globally), often providing a first foot on the employment ladder for young people.”


The impact of COVID-19 will be felt in all areas of the Irish economy, but particularly by the hospitality sector, where a severe drop in tourism combined with the months-long closures of bars, hotels and restaurants will see closures and widespread job loss. A rural Irish publican, who wishes to remain anonymous, says they have registered for the fund and are relieved that at least one major brewer in Ireland is trying to help.

"We will be notified when the campaign goes live now that we've registered," the publican says. "Guinness have been brilliant throughout the pandemic; (in our experience), they're the only brewery that have been."

Managing director of Diageo Ireland Oliver Loomes says to get back up and running, the hospitality sector in Ireland will require long-term investment.

"Our ambition is to support pubs in Ireland in welcoming back customers in the safest possible way, when they are ready to do so," he says.

"It will also be essential for the authorities on this island to work together with our industry to build both a safe and a sustainable hospitality and bar sector."

While interested bar owners and publicans can register for the programme now, Diageo Ireland says that more information on the Raising the Bar programme will be announced in July.