A new app called Boozr is giving locked-down Britons in need of a pint the chance to find out which pubs with beer gardens are open nearby from 12 April.
Designed by developer Pete Shaw, 54, from London, the Boozr app spans 700,000 venues worldwide and is aimed at people who can’t wait to ‘do their socialising in real life’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given pubs with outside space in England the green light to reopen after Easter next month, with drinks inside only allowed from 17 May.
Time for a drink? The Boozr app lets you see where your friends will be drinking on an evening
The app is aimed at helping the hospitality sector get back on its feet again by brining friends together without the need for extensive chats via a WhatsApp group or Facebook event.
An interactive map shows nearby pubs and bars open near you in whatever direction you point your phone.
Groups of friends can also ‘check in’ to venues, telling their pals which pub they plan to spend the evening in. Punters can also hone in on their preferred pub after filtering through all the special events on offer, like drinks deals, quizzes or themed nights.
People can also find new friends on the app by seeing who else has checked in to their local that night.
‘I had the idea of Boozr about three years ago, but it wasn’t until the pubs were shut that I had the time to develop it!’, Mr Shaw said.
He added: ‘My friends and I tend to drink in about half a dozen pubs in the area, but the problem was you could never be quite sure which pub everyone was going to on any given night, or if there were any events we were missing out on in one of the pubs we didn’t visit as often.’
Mr Shaw told This is Money that he has tested the app on about 100 friends from all over the world and as far afield as Australia and Lake Tahoe in California.
‘Boozr lets people share plans with each other in a way which isn’t as demanding as sending a text to all or phoning each other’, he said.
And, with publicans chomping at the bit to get going again, it is no surprise that the Boozr app is being welcomed by watering holes.
Book your place: The Turk’s Head pub in Twickenham is ready to get back open again
Find your mates: The Boozr app lets you quickly arrange to meet pals at a pub
Man with the app plan: Boozr was developed by Pete Shaw
Ollie Coulombeau, manager at The Turk’s Head in Twickenham, said: ‘We’re planning to reopen our beer garden on 12 April and Boozr is a great way to find us.
‘I can see a lot of our regulars using the App, especially given the pent up demand for socialising.’
Meanwhile, Lisa Riddiough, general manager at The Ferry House at the Isle of Dogs in east London, said her regulars ‘got the concept of the app quickly and are very enthusiastic about it.’
She added: ‘It’s so simple. It’s one of those ideas you wonder why someone hadn’t thought of it before. I love it!.’
The Boozr app is available to download in the iOS App Store or Google Play and can be used on androids and iPhones.
Real life people! The Boozr app is designed for people who want to socialise in person
When are pubs reopening and what are the rules?
Different rules and dates apply to the reopening of hospitality venues up and down the country.
In England, pubs and hospitality venues like restaurants with outdoor spaces can welcome back customers willing to sit outside from 12 April.
Lots of venues are already reporting a surge in bookings ahead of the big day. Up to six people from different households will be able to meet and a maximum of two households can meet to form a group of any size. There will be no curfew and people will not have to order food, or a scotch egg, with their drink.
Not long to go: Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin
The next big milestone day for hospitality venues in England in 17 May. On this date, hospitality businesses like pubs will be able to seat customers indoors. From 17 May, parties can be made up of a maximum of six people or two households of any size and groups seated outside must be smaller than 30 people.
But, the really big day in England is coming on 21 June, when all social distancing restrictions and other measures are due be relaxed and venues like nightclubs will be allowed to reopen.
In Scotland, at the moment pubs look set to reopen on 26 April as part of a return to the ‘levels’ system of regional lockdown restrictions. Punters will be able to visit with members of their own household. Or, six people from two different households will also be able to meet at venues outdoors.
As yet, there are no precise dates for the reopening of hospitality venues in Wales and Northern Ireland.
How badly have pubs been hit by the pandemic?
The hospitality sector, which includes everything from cafes and pubs to restaurants and hotels, has been severely hit by sporadic lockdowns and closures over the past year.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics in December revealed that the number of people working in the hospitality sector who had been made redundant rose from 58,000 to 171,000 in the past year.
But, research group Fourth, as well as UK Hospitality, think that around 600,000 people working in the sector have lost their jobs in the past 12 months.
Job cuts: Martson’s announced plans to cut up to 2,150 jobs last year
Pub group JD Wetherspoon said last year that it planned to cut up to 130 head office jobs due to a downturn in the pub and restaurant industry during the pandemic.
The group blamed the cuts on a downturn in trading, a slowdown in the company’s rate of expansion and a reduction of the number of pubs operated from 955 in 2015 to 873 today.
It also cut around 450 jobs from six of its airport pubs due to the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry.
In October, pub group and brewer Martson’s announced it planned to axe 2,150 furloughed jobs as a result of the pandemic, blaming ongoing Government lcokdown restrictions.
All Bar One and Toby Carvery owner Mitchells & Butlers also kept 20 sites shut for good as a result of lockdowns.
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