Operators have been at the forefront of ensuring elderly residents in their areas keep loneliness at bay, with friendship lunches and chatty tables.
Pubs have continued such initiatives despite some fears that the rapid spread of coronavirus could deter older people from leaving the house.
Hygiene advice from MeetUpMondays
• Promote hand hygiene by making sure that staff, contractors, service users and visitors have access to hand-washing facilities and providing alcohol-based hand rub in prominent places
• Ensure any crockery and cutlery in shared kitchen areas is cleaned with warm general purpose detergent and dried thoroughly before being stored for re-use
• Avoid leaving food stuffs (eg, crisps, cakes, sandwiches) exposed and open for communal sharing unless individually wrapped
• Individuals should: wash hands often with soap and water; or use alcohol-based hand rub
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Jemima Withey, founder of the Turk’s Head, Hasketon, Suffolk, said the pub would not cancel its meetings unless they received advice to do so.
She said: “We are not seeing any impact yet. I would imagine that some of our older Monday guests might choose to stay at home for a few weeks if the news continues to be concerning.”
Organisation MeetUpMondays said as it only runs the network, pubs themselves are responsible for each session.
It has advised pubs to let them know if they plan on suspending meet-ups for a period of time so it can let the public know.
It also advised pubs to create a ‘telephone tree’ with their visitors so that people can check up on each other in between meet-ups.
Pubs can also use these as an alternative if it is necessary to suspend the meet-ups for a period.
They advised pubs: “With a telephone tree – each person can call their two designated people for a chat, so that if it becomes necessary to self isolate, folk can still have a bit of a natter and a catch up to relieve any social isolation.”
The Morning Advertiser readers at the Garden House pub in Norwich, Norfolk, said they would be following this advice to check up on regulars.
Withey said she was very satisfied with her pub’s current hygiene regime and its staff were constantly washing their hands in accordance with guidance.
She added: “However, we are introducing a new protocol to take that to the next level, including extra cleaning of door handles, hand rails and chair arms several times a day and further hand washing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds plus as per Government advice.”
Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams said the outbreak showed it was more important than ever to be vigilant and look out for older customers to check they were OK.
She said: “The coronavirus outbreak is obviously a huge worry and looks likely to be challenging for our older population.
“If someone has been advised to self-isolate or is just worried about going out there are still plenty of things you can do to help like picking up some shopping or help by running some errands.
“If it’s safe to do so, you can pop in but you can also stay in touch over the phone, online or by post. If you or they have any concerns about their health or need more information about coronavirus call NHS 111 or visit the NHS website.”