Daily Bulletin

  • Written by Milk Bottle Projects
When Victoria went into its fourth lockdown in May, the state's 1,000-plus pubs shut again for in-house dining. For many Melbourne businesses, the extended lockdown periods are a protracted struggle for economic survival, as they are forced to adopt measures such as reducing costs, letting staff go or closing their business altogether to mitigate losses. However, as COVID-19 vaccinations become more accessible to the Australian public, there is hope that everything will return to normal sooner rather than later, so that this sector can begin its journey to revival. Leading the charge is Port Melbourne’s Prince Alfred Hotel, who are finding new ways to future-proof their business and the industry as a whole by pivoting in times of change. This week, the iconic pub is giving away free booze to those who get vaccinated, in a light-hearted effort to reward those who take action to protect their community, and ultimately the businesses that have been the hardest hit.

When several Bay Street venues were listed as exposure sites in May, the stress of the lockdown hit a little closer to home for residents and businesses in the area. Now that vaccine roll outs have been made available to everyone over the age of eighteen, Prince Alfred Hotel publicans Anna and Tom Streater “want to make people in Port Melbourne aware of where their local vaccination venue is and to help provide a little encouragement for people to do their bit and ultimately, to keep our pub open.” So, for one week only, Prince Alfred Port Melbourne is giving away free drinks to those who roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated at the Port Melbourne Town Hall which is conveniently located across the road from their venue. Customers who present their blue vaccination card at the bar after their jab can be given a free drink of their choosing - whether it be a pint, a wine, or a house spirit and mixer. Anna Streater explains, “we want to encourage locals to ‘do their bit’, and we are happy to put our hand in our pocket to fund the initiative.”

After Prince Alfred Port Melbourne posted their new incentive on Instagram, several prominent figures jumped on board, with Clementine Ford and Dani Valent expressing their utmost support for the campaign. However, they didn’t anticipate that people would “share the post and use it as a lightning rod for the debate about COVID vaccines.” Within 24 hours, the post received more than 2,500 likes and 2,036 comments which ranged from a groundswell of support to unfortunate remarks about their assumed pending business failure. Regardless of your position on the vaccination debate, if Prince Alfred Hotel's initiative can encourage just one person to get vaccinated, they’ve done their due diligence, just by serving their local Port Melbourne community. Streater explains, “we stand by the post, we stand by our little pub business and the Port Melbourne community that supports us so loyally. If the vaccine is what stops the spread, stops outbreaks, stops lockdowns and keeps us open and our team in jobs, then we’re all for it. We respect everyone’s right to hold a view on the matter and to express it, ideally in a constructive, open and informed way.” 

Despite the ravaging coronavirus outbreaks across the country, many Melburnians are acting passively and prolonging getting a vaccine. However, the unfortunate reality is that another wave of restrictions would be the knockout blow for many in the hospitality industry. Streater explains “the [tighter restrictions and lockdowns] happening across the other states right now is a painful reflection of how badly lockdowns affect our pubs and venues.” Whilst takeaway tap beer by the litre and cocktails in cryovac bags is a great short term solution, this delivery or pickup style of business isn’t sustainable, especially in comparison to being able to trade for dine-in customers. According to the Department of Health, the latest estimation is that 60-70% of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to reach the herd immunity threshold. This is when the virus is considered less likely to spread, and will significantly decrease the likelihood of another lockdown. Prince Alfred Port Melbourne are doing everything they can to ensure hospitality businesses can continue to survive and Melburnians can enjoy their well-deserved freedom.

The more Victorians who get vaccinated, the faster the hospitality and entertainment industries will be able to get back on their feet - two industries which play an integral part in how we connect with one another. The venue’s ability to continue to give back to their community and their industry after a year and a half of uncertainty just shows how much the hospitality industry is the backbone of our society. No matter where you sit on the vaccination debate, if Prince Alfred Hotel’s initiative can urge even a few fence sitters and those who need a little encouragement to get the vaccine, it will help the whole community moving forward. After all, Prince Alfred Port Melbourne has always been far more than just a local drinking hole - it’s an iconic community hub with an undeniable passion to protect its local community and the broader hospitality industry. 

The Conversation

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