Drinks giant Diageo has announced a global programme to help pubs and bars get back to business and recover following the coronavirus lockdown.

Through its ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative, the owner of brands such as Guinness and Smirnoff will provide $100m to support the recovery of major hospitality centres, including New York, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Delhi, Bangalore, and Sydney. The money includes the US$20m Community Fund announced in the US earlier month.

Diageo stated it had designed the support programme following a global survey of bar owners to identify what they needed to reopen after lockdown. The top priorities included hygiene measures, digital support, and practical equipment to transform how outlets will operate under new restrictions.

Diageo plans to provide initial funding for ‘hygiene kits’ with permanent sanitiser dispense units and a range of personal protection equipment. It will also help pubs and bars to establish partnerships with online reservations and cashless systems, mobile bars and outdoor equipment.

From today, bar owners will be able to register their interest for the ‘Raising the Bar’ programme via www.diageobaracademy.com globally and www.mydiageo.com in the UK and Ireland.

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.”

The UK government announced yesterday that restaurants, pubs and cafes in England can reopen from 4 July, providing they follow safety guidelines to minimise the risk of infection.