Called #ProjectPint, it is due to launch next week, with McVeigh saying: “The people led the government into lockdown and they will lead them out. Project Fear must be swapped for Project Pint to show them the way. I for one am ready to serve!”
McVeigh, who is chairman and an investor in The Breakfast Club and Butchies Fried Chicken, has been vocal in calling for the Government to get the economy moving again and allow businesses to reopen, and says that the British pub could be a symbol of this recovery from the damage caused by lockdown.
Speaking to BigHospitality’s sister title MCA, he says that hospitality businesses, as places for communities to socialise, meet and relax, could play a part in relaying messages of reassurance to the public that the outside world – and their venues – were safe.
“As an industry, it’s very difficult because if we’re seen to be going too fast, we can look heartless, like we’re not bothered about saving people’s grandmothers lives and so on,” he says.
“On the other hand, we do have a role to play in terms of communicating this message that we’ve got to end the fear of going out, we have to end ‘project fear’ and be truthful about the negligible risks that the virus holds for the vast majority of the population.
“We’ve got to get people back out again because there are a huge number of people who are sitting at home, afraid. Mental health is in free-fall and domestic violence at an all-time high. And, with each passing day, the hidden millions of post-Covid unemployed grow larger.
“The cure is becoming worse than the disease, so you’ve got to believe that getting people out and about and back into the community is important.”
Project Pint will remind the public of the importance of pubs and why people should want to return to them as quickly as possible, providing it is safe to do so.
“The biggest threat to the hospitality industry’s recovery is fear,” says McVeigh.
“Our messaging has got to be very careful. We need to be clear that our top priority is social distancing, the safety of staff and customers.
“But, if we can get enough messaging out there: that it’s safe outside, that it’s our patriotic duty to go out to restaurants and pubs, that our staff are hospitality heroes, then this awful, destructive anxiety can be alleviated, and I think the Government will follow the people out of lockdown.
"As Churchill said, ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself.’”