Drinks giant Diageo has announced £4 million in funding for pubs struggling with the impact of coronavirus.
The company, which makes Guinness and a number of whiskies, has announced the two-year Raise the Bar programme to help premises bring back customers as lockdown restrictions further ease.
It designed the scheme following a global survey of bar owners to identify what they need to reopen after lockdown.
Their top priorities include hygiene measures, digital support and practical equipment to transform how their outlets will work.
Emma McClarkin, CEO of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, said: “This announcement today from Diageo will be enthusiastically welcomed by operators who are desperate to re-open their pubs, get trading again, welcome customers back and play their part in the economic recovery.
“The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit as a result of the pandemic, with pubs and bars now closed for over three months and its impact likely to be felt by the trade for a long time into the future.
“With over 50,000 jobs dependent on pubs and bars, we are an integral part of the national economy and communities across the country – it is vital we get up and running again soon, and this initiative will help support that.”
The programme will provide targeted support to help pay for the physical equipment needed for premises to reopen.
This will include initial funding for permanent sanitiser dispenser units, medical-grade hand sanitiser and a range of personal protection equipment.
Pubs and bars will also be helped to establish partnerships with online reservations, cashless systems, mobile bars and outdoor equipment.
The announcement comes the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced premises will be able to reopen in England as of July 4.
It is part of a wider 100 million US dollars (£80 million) scheme across the world.
Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, said: “Pubs and bars sit at the heart of every community.
“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.
“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, which provide a first foot on the employment ladder for young people.”