Free beer offer back once lockdown ends

A Melbourne pub which offered free beer to anyone who gets the coronavirus vaccine says they will continue the incentive once Victoria’s latest lockdown lifts.
The idea was thought up last month by Tom Streater, publican of the Prince Alfred Hotel on Bay Street, Port Melbourne, when a pop-up vaccination clinic opened across the road.

Mr Streater said he hoped the incentive would encourage more people to get vaccinated to prevent repeated lockdowns in the future.

The Prince Alfred Hotel in Port Melbourne
The Prince Alfred in Port Melbourne say they can’t keep the roof over their head and pay staff if lockdowns keep happening so the more people who get vaccinated, the less likelihood that will happen. (Supplied / Prince Alfred Hotel)

“Icy cold draught beer is one of life’s simple comforts,” Mr Streater told nine.com.au.

“Whether you’re keen on something familiar and comforting or you love a variety of independent craft beers – we’ve got all bases covered.”

But prior to Victoria being thrust into its fifth lockdown overnight, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) shut the incentive down, telling Mr Streater to stop the offer.

“The offer of certain rewards to people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is permitted – provided the offer complies with certain conditions (such as not offering alcohol, tobacco or registered medicines),” the TGA said.

The move even caught the attention of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said it was heavy handed and he would speak with Health Minister Greg Hunt about “getting the situation sorted”.

“It was a blast seeing the prime minister on TV giving us a plug,” Mr Streater said.

As of last week, the TGA have since backflipped on their decision, now allowing the free alcohol offer to go ahead.

“In making the changes, the TGA has made it clear that an offer of alcohol must not encourage excessive or rapid consumption of alcohol; must not have a strong or evident appeal to minors; and must be served consistent with the Responsible Service of Alcohol arrangements,” a TGA spokesperson told nine.com.au.

The Prince Alfred Hotel in Port Melbourne
Publicans Tom and Anna Streater say they have faced lockdown before and they will get through it again. (Supplied / Prince Alfred Hotel)

Mr Streater said while the promotion saw an increase in visitors at the pub, the long-term goal was getting more people vaccinated.

“We’re thrilled to be able to offer this again,” he said.

“We are motivated primarily by the idea that more vaccinations mean less likelihood of future outbreaks and less chance of another lockdown being implemented and the associated economic and mental health costs for us and those we care about.”

He said the Prince Alfred were luckily in a position where they could continue paying their staff and their landlord Bernie is a “ripper fella” who helped them out with rent relief during last year’s lockdown and has their back should they struggle this time around.

“JobKeeper was a massive factor in our survival last year along with some rent relief from our landlord who’s really quite generous,” Mr Streater said.

But he said if not enough people get vaccinated, then lockdowns are likely going to keep happening and this could mean several local businesses being forced to close.

“Our business can’t survive repeated long lockdowns, our team can’t put a roof over their heads or food on the table if the pub isn’t open and busy and offering them sufficient hours,” he said.

The Prince Alfred Hotel in Port Melbourne
The Prince Alfred Hotel in Port Melbourne will be offering takeaway beers during Victoria’s five-day snap lockdown. (Supplied / Prince Alfred Hotel)

Mr Streater said despite negative feedback from people who were against the coronavirus vaccine or those who thought a complimentary beer was irresponsible, the Prince Alfred has not changed their stance on the matter.

“We stand by our little pub business and the Port Melbourne community that supports us so loyally,” he said.

“If the vaccine is what stops the spread, stops outbreaks, stops lockdowns and keeps us open and our team in jobs, then we’re for it.

“We respect everyone’s right to hold a view on the matter and express it, ideally in a constructive and open and informed way. This is our view, we hope people can respect it, even if they disagree.”

Mr Streater said for those who don’t drink alcohol – the Prince Alfred stocks independent zero alcoholic beers and they are even willing to make patrons up a fresh mocktail once the current lockdown lifts.

For now, the hotel is relying on takeaway meals, takeaway beers in milk bottles and even takeaway cocktails to get through the next five days.

“The revised commonwealth support will help our workers,” he said.

“The state government grants, while welcome, are the proverbial drop in the ocean relative to how much we lose each week of a stage four lockdown.”

The Prince Alfred, Port Melbourne.
For now, the hotel is relying on takeaway meals, takeaway beers in milk bottles and even takeaway cocktails to get through the next five days. (Facebook / Prince Alfred)

In a bid to get more people vaccinated, French President Emmanuel Marcon announced earlier this week that anyone who wanted to go to a pub, cafe or restaurant would have to provide proof they had been vaccinated or provide proof that they have tested negative for coronavirus.

While some thought this was a risky gamble, the move saw over 1.7 million French citizens book their vaccination in the following 24 hours.

Mr Streater said while people are free to make their own decisions on whether or not to get vaccinated, the Prince Alfred is not interested in excluding anyone if a similar rule is introduced in Australia.

“I suppose anything that might be effective is worthy of consideration, but – and it’s a big but – I’m not in favour of excluding anyone,” he said.

“Small businesses have to work bloody hard to market themselves and attract customers so as long as those customers are sensible and respectful of us and other customers we’re happy to take them at their word that they’re not experiencing symptoms or holding concerns that they may be unwell.”

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