Coronavirus: Virtual pub recruits night 'bar staff' as members surge

Ray Callcut and his partner SusanImage source, Ray Callcut
Image caption,
Virtual pub "patron" Ray Callcut said: "It is nice company - you feel like you are with your friends"

An ex-landlady who set up a virtual pub has recruited "bar staff" in Australia to monitor the page overnight as membership reached more than 12,000.

Jo Bowtell launched The Virtual Pub Facebook page, which hosts live music, quizzes and open mic nights through Facebook live, more than a week ago.

Miss Bowtell, from Spondon, Derby, said it is "the biggest pub I have ever had and it does fit round my children".

Hundreds of "patrons" have been posting selfies with drinks in the "pub".

Image source, The Virtual Pub Facebook page
Image caption,
Jo Bowtell (top left) said: "Everyone seems to be really happy about it and feels something positive is happening in the world"

The mother-of-two, who used to run The Noel Arms in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, said it "has blown up completely".

This weekend a boot camp for pub-goers will be hosted on Saturday morning, with cocktail making in the afternoon followed by live music and a quiz later.

On Sunday, there will be three music acts and a comedy night.

These will all run through Facebook live videos, except the comedy night where performers communicate through Skype, film it on YouTube and post a link to the page.

Image source, Dean Chapman
Image caption,
Dean Chapman posted this photograph of him having a drink while in the virtual pub

She said: "It is pretty much like going to a pub but doing it from your living room.

"They might only nip in for one drink and that is fine, we have all done that."

Image source, Louise Lockwood
Image caption,
Louise Lockwood (left), Lily Hitch and Stuart Hanks enjoying the virtual pub in Stamford, Lincolnshire

The 40-year-old added: "We have got an Australian moderator so someone is working through the night on requests.

"There are key workers getting in from work at odd hours and it is a way to connect with people."

Image source, Dawn Richardson
Image caption,
Dawn Richardson said "the banter in the pub is good"

Dawn Richardson, from Melton Mowbray, said: "It is keeping me entertained all day.

"I just love it. It has brought people together," said the 37-year-old.

Ray Callcut, 60, said: "It's great. I can speak to my mum and then go back in the pub.

"It's almost like a platform for new talent so when we get out of this, hopefully pubs will be busy with entertainment."

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