How do Brits feel about reopened pubs?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
July 24, 2020, 8:37 AM UTC

Majority of Brits see pub visits as at least a moderate COVID-19 risk – but a fifth of regular pub-goers have already been back to their local

The iconic Great British pub has been back in business for a couple of weeks. But how many drinkers have returned – and what’s putting off those who haven’t.

Are Brits comfortable with heading to the pub?

In June most Brits told us that they felt uncomfortable about returning to pubs, and the headline figures have not drastically changed since then, despite doors opening again.

Overall, 49% of Brits say they would feel uncomfortable returning to a pub now, compared to 54% in June. Currently a quarter of Brits (25%) say they are fairly uncomfortable, and another 24% are very uncomfortable with the prospect.

Only 8% of Brits are very comfortable with the idea, the same level we saw in June. Another 20% are fairly comfortable doing so, compared to 18% who said the same in June. Men are the most likely to be comfortable returning, at 33%, compared to under a quarter (24%) of women.

However, for those diehard fans of the pub out there, not even the threat of a second wave of coronavirus will stand between them and their local. Approaching a quarter (24%) of Brits who are worried about a second wave of COVID-19 still say they would comfortable to some extent with returning to the pub, and many of that group already have.

What parts of the pub make Brits uncomfortable?

With the majority of Brits still not comfortable with the idea of hitting the pub, what is it that’s putting them off given all the safety measures put in place by landlords? We asked English pub goers which aspects of the pub concern them and, for nearly all the demographics we looked at, the problem is simply being indoors with others.

Of the activities we asked English pub goers about, the majority of the demographic splits are uncomfortable with the idea of sitting inside. Overall 58% of English pub goers said they would uncomfortable sitting inside a pub, rising to 69% of those who are worried about a second wave of COVID-19.

Pub goers are more than happy to eat and drink however, with 61% being comfortable with purchasing drinks, and half also comfortable purchasing main meals in pubs (52%)  – important given that many pubs will surely take part in the “Eat out to help out” voucher scheme recently announced by Rishi Sunak.

Only those who are worried about a second wave of COVID-19 are more likely to be uncomfortable eating main meals at the pub (49%).

Some 58% of drinkers are also uncomfortable using toilets in a pub – the same proportion as those uncomfortable with sitting inside. A similar proportion (55%) would also uncomfortable ordering at the bar, something which many pubs currently aren’t allowing.

Brits say it’s a risk, but pubs will boost national morale

The threat of COVID-19 remains very real, despite the relaxation of some elements of lockdown. And as such the vast majority of Brits (79%) see going to the pub as presenting at least a moderate risk of catching the virus – with three in ten (31%) saying that popping into the local for quick pint presents a high risk.

Most Brits also say that reopening pubs will be good for the nation’s morale. Over half (59%) of Brits say that reopening pubs will have a positive impact on national morale – even 59% of those adults worried about a second wave of the virus say the same.

How many have returned so far?

So despite many still being uncomfortable with going to back to pubs, and even more seeing doing so as a risk, how many English adults have been back to the beloved boozer?

One in five (21%) English pub goers say they’ve been back to the pubs at least once since their grand reopening on July 4th. This figure is highest among men, 25% of whom have been back to the pub so far with another 24% planning to go back before the end of August while summer is in full swing.

Despite being more likely to see it as a risk of catching COVID-19, those who are worried about a second wave are on par with those who are not in terms of visiting the pub – as 19% of those worried about a possible second wave of COVID-19 say they have visited the pub since they reopened.

Almost three in ten London-based pub drinkers (28%) have been back to the local since it reopened, the highest percentage of any region. Only 18% of pub-goers in the South and North of England have also done so.

Only 13% of English pub-goers concerned about another outbreak of COVID-19 say they’ve been put off pubs for the foreseeable future, compared to 11% of English pub-goers over all - this is despite many seeing visiting the pub as a substantial risk for catching the virus.

See full results here