Pubs and restaurants are dreaming of a Covid-free Christmas – here’s how to make it a reality

Minoo Patel, Head of Technology at BonaCaeli, looks at how technology can help pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels protect staff and customers and prevent another lockdown.

Christmas is a big deal in hospitality. Fuelled by family gatherings, office parties, lavish Christmas menus and general good cheer, it is the most lucrative time of the year. But, in 2020, following a series of lockdowns and other restrictions, pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels had their worst festive season ever – with takings between Christmas Eve and boxing day down almost 80% on the previous year.

This year hospitality managers are fervently hoping that their Christmas and New Year plans will not be derailed by further restrictions. Despite the success of the vaccine programme, Covid case numbers are rising, and many are concerned that the government might introduce ‘Plan B’ – which could include vaccine passports, social distancing, and the return of mandatory facemasks. Even without further restrictions, a surge in Covid cases could lead to serious staff shortages, placing strain on an already stretched industry and result in cancelled bookings.

So how can we help prevent another lockdown, protect pub, bar, restaurant and hotel staff, and enjoy Christmas without Covid ruining the party? Let’s look at the solutions that have been tried so far – and one that, though it seems to have slipped under the radar, could be a game changer.

Are the current plans right for hospitality?

We know that the re-introduction of ‘bubbles and social distancing would be disastrous for the hospitality sector this Christmas – but what about alternative measures such as mandatory facemask wearing and vaccine passports?

Facemasks have almost certainly helped slow down the spread of the virus – but they are far from an ideal solution. Some people are sceptical about their effectiveness, and others simply don’t like wearing them. As a result, every month since July 2021, when mask-wearing stopped being compulsory, the number of people wearing them in the UK has steadily dropped.

Vaccine passports are also problematic. Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, recently scrapped a plan to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs due to the difficulties involved – including the extra work needed to implement the passport system and the possibility of venues facing discrimination cases. A leaked government document has even suggested that vaccine passports could lead to an increase in Covid infection rates by pushing the public in large numbers from nightclubs into poorly ventilated venues.

The game changer – how hospitality can hit back at Covid

Many pubs, bars, restaurants, and hotels reacted to the threat of Covid by creating bigger, more open spaces. Covered outdoor tables, marquees, and purpose-built outbuildings can all help to provide more room for social distancing and better ventilation. But not every hospitality business has the room to create these new spaces. And big open spaces are expensive to heat. There is, however, an alternative that so far has gained very little traction in the news – and could be a game changer this Christmas.

Covid-19 is primarily transmitted through air-borne mists of exhaled particles, which can remain in the air for up to three hours. What we ideally need to do is not just improve ventilation but actively remove the virus-carrying particles from the air. And the good news is, this is entirely possible with existing technology.

By installing air purifiers that draw in air from a room and purify it using a range of technologies, including high powered ultraviolet light, filtration systems and more, pubs, bars, hotels, and restaurants can pro-actively tackle the spread of Covid and help to prevent a repeat of Christmas 2020. In doing so, they would weaken the case for another lockdown, protect their valuable staff and enable everyone to enjoy a traditional Christmas without fear of infection.

How to choose an air purifier

Of course, no air purifier can completely guarantee to remove the spread of airborne viruses like Covid-19, but some do offer better protection than others. Here are a few things to consider before investing in an air purifier:

  • Effectiveness: Look for a solution that deactivates viruses and kills pathogens – rather than just filtering them out of the air.
  • Credentials: Look for a science-based solution – preferably one verified by government scientists or independent research.
  • Maintenance: Purifiers that rely on very fine filters may store up viruses and could present a health risk when those filters need to be changed.
  • Technology: Look for a solution that uses powerful but safe Ultraviolet-C radiation to breakdown and de-activate pathogens.
  • Innovation: Some air purifiers go further than using filters and UV-C radiation, adding innovative developments such as bubbling air slowly through a medical grade bio-wash system. Make sure you choose the most effective purifier currently available.

Don’t let the Grinch ruin Christmas 2021. If you’re running a bar, pub, restaurant or hotel, give yourself, your staff and your customers the gift of safe, clean air this Christmas.