New international survey: Closure of cafés, bars, and restaurants during pandemic led to decline in social and mental wellbeing (October 2021)

  • Two-thirds (66%) of adults surveyed in 10 countries around the world say the closure of cafès, bars, and restaurants negatively impacted on the social and mental wellbeing of the general population

  • Almost half (45%) say their own social and mental wellbeing has been negatively affected by the closure of hospitality venues

  • Most of the 11,400 adults surveyed (57%) have a better appreciation for the contribution hospitality venues bring to their social and mental wellbeing   

  • Safety measures introduced after venues reopened have changed the hospitality sector environment for the better, almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents believe

The closure of cafés, bars, and restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected adults’ social and mental wellbeing across the globe as they were denied the opportunity to socialize, according to YouGov polling and focus groups by WorldThinks.
The YouGov polling of 11,400 adults, commissioned by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), comes after an extended period during which lockdown and curfew restrictions have limited opportunities for communities to socialize in many countries across the globe.
Two-thirds (66%) of adults surveyed across 10 countries said the closure of hospitality venues during the pandemic negatively impacted the social and mental wellbeing of the general population, while almost half (45%) agreed that their own social and mental wellbeing had been harmed.
More than half (57%) of all respondents claimed that they better understand the contribution of cafés, bars, and restaurants to their social and mental wellbeing since experiencing lockdown, rising to more than three-quarters (77%) in South Africa and more than two-thirds (70%) in Mexico.
When asked what factors have most impacted on their happiness since restrictions lifted, almost half (45%) of respondents said the opportunity to socialize with friends and family outside the home.
These findings are explored in IARD’s new report, Insights: The value of hospitality venues to social and mental wellbeing. The report also includes insights from focus group undertaken by WorldThinks, who interviewed 74 patrons including those in five major cities – London, New York, Mexico City, Cape Town, and Barcelona – to understand the impact of COVID-19 restrictions in all areas. Participants from all areas felt negatively impacted by the closure of venues. At an individual level, it exacerbated feelings of boredom and isolation, and at a societal level it resulted in widespread job losses, which was particularly devastating in markets with less government support.
Focus groups and polling reflect the key contribution of the hospitality sector in providing spaces for people to socialize and relax, contributing to social and mental wellbeing.
Polling responses recognize the positive impact of actions taken to mitigate COVID-19 within the hospitality sector. More than two-thirds (71%) of survey respondents said increased safety measures have improved hospitality venues, while very few consumers interviewed by WorldThinks cited significant negative impacts on hospitality venue environments.
More than half of respondents would like the improved standards of cleanliness (58%) and better ventilation (52%) to stay once all restrictions are lifted, and four in ten (41%) would like improved outdoor facilities to remain. Consumers interviewed by WorldThinks also highlighted concerns around safety and social distancing as a key barrier to returning to hospitality settings.
Henry Ashworth, IARD President and CEO, said:
“The survey work highlights just how essential cafés, bars, and restaurants are to communities and our social and mental wellbeing as individuals. As well as being major employers, they make our communities vibrant and enjoyable places to live and work – creating important spaces for us to socialize and relax. It’s now clear that having experienced life without hospitality venues, we all have a renewed appreciation of just how vital a role they play.
“The introduction of additional safety measures, such as improved cleanliness, has set the stage for us to rebuild a safe and thriving café, bar, and restaurant culture, which has been so sorely missed by so many. It is incumbent on us all to enjoy these spaces responsibly as they reopen, to benefit our social and mental wellbeing and that of whole communities alongside protecting our physical health.”

Download Insights: The value of hospitality venues to social and mental wellbeing
Notes to Editors:
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, who conducted global polling in the following 10 countries: U.K., U.S., Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Australia, France, Japan, Brazil, and Czech Republic, during July and August 2021. Total sample size was 11,444 adults. The survey was carried out online between July and August 2021. The figures have been weighted and are representative of each country (aged 18+). 
WorldThinks is an international insight and strategy consultancy. They use research and engagement techniques to put the people that matter most to their clients at the heart of their thinking.