New research shows closure of hospitality caused decline in Brits’ mental health (July 2021)

 New research shows closure of hospitality caused decline in Brits’ mental health

  • One in three U.K. adults (34%) say their own social and mental wellbeing has been negatively impacted by the closure of pubs and other hospitality settings, with adults under 35 worst affected
  • Almost two-thirds of U.K. adults believe the social and mental wellbeing of the population had declined due to closure of pubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants
  • After the experience of lockdown, U.K. adults significantly value socialising and relaxing in hospitality settings
  • Majority of U.K. adults think COVID-19 has changed hospitality venues for the better, with improved cleanliness, better outdoor space, and option for at-table service
The closure of pubs and other hospitality venues during lockdown has directly impacted the nation’s wellbeing with younger adults the worst affected, a new survey has shown.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of U.K. adults believe the social and mental wellbeing of the population had declined due to the closure of hospitality venues, suggesting that restrictions preventing people from meeting up, escaping the house, and avoiding feelings of loneliness had a marked impact on our health.  

More than a third (34%) said their personal wellbeing had suffered, including almost half of under-35s (47%). Almost half (49%) of respondents said the experience of lockdown has helped them appreciate the contribution that pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes make to their social and mental health.

The survey by YouGov for the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) comes as restrictions on gathering in groups and stand-up drinking in venues are lifted on what has been dubbed “Freedom Day”, after a tumultuous 18 months for the hospitality industry.

The data also revealed how the experience of lockdown affected the way people view pubs and other hospitality venues, with a growing appreciation of the value they provide as a critical place to socialise.

When asked which reasons for visiting hospitality venues had become more important to them during lockdown, 41% cited spending time with friends and family, followed by relaxing away from the home or work environment (34%).

People also had a greater appreciation of the chance to enjoy food and drink prepared by someone else (30%) and the ability to avoid feeling lonely (19%). While ranked last, concern remains over the (3%) who want to drink heavily with friends.

An overwhelming majority (70%) of U.K. Brits agreed that measures introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic had changed the environment of hospitality venues for the better, compared with just 8% who felt it had been negatively impacted.

When asked what recent changes they would like to see remain in place after restrictions are lifted, improved cleanliness (61%) and better indoor ventilation (54%) were the most popular factors, followed by improved outdoor facilities (50%), the option for table service in more venues (48%), and digital ordering/payment systems (37%).

Henry Ashworth, CEO of IARD, said: “As the U.K. embraces its ‘freedom day’, today’s research highlights just how essential the hospitality sector is to our social and mental wellbeing. As well as being major employers, our local pubs, cafes, bars, and restaurants make our villages, towns, and cities vibrant places to live and work – creating important spaces for us to socialize and relax with friends and families.

“The introduction of alfresco dining and cleaner venues has set the stage for us to rebuild a safe and thriving café, bar, and restaurant culture, which we have so sorely missed. It is incumbent on us all to enjoy these spaces responsibly.”

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: With restrictions on socialising having gradually eased over recent months, today feels to many of us like the grand finale – a cathartic moment which finally marks the much-anticipated ‘Return To Normal.’ Pubs and the wider hospitality sector have always played an important part in our social and mental wellbeing by providing spaces for people to get together and connect  – enabling us to meet, laugh, share stories, date, make friends, and escape the office after a hard day’s work.”

Notes to Editors
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The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to reducing harmful drinking and promoting understanding of responsible drinking. We are supported by the leading global beer, wine, and spirits producers, who have come together for a common purpose: to be part of the solution in combating harmful drinking. To advance this shared mission, IARD works and partners with public sector, civil society, and private stakeholders.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,055 adults in the U.K. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14 and 15 July. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of U.K. country adults (aged 18+).