Coronavirus latest: Wetherspoon boss criticises UK government’s plan


JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has criticised the UK government’s approach to coronavirus following prime minister Boris Johnson’s advice that the public should avoid pubs and restaurants.

Said Martin,  “I believe the government will make a tactical error in resorting to de facto ‘lockdown’. The Dutch position of frankly admitting that most people will get the virus, while protecting the elderly and sick, thereby building up group immunity, is the best path for the UK. As scientists have said lockdown for twelve weeks results in a further breakout of infections in July.

The difference in keeping the hospitality industry open, even with reduced sales, is colossal. The industry contributes £120 billion a year of tax and six million jobs. Wetherspoon alone contributes £2m a DAY of tax. Lockdown delays the inevitable and destroys the tax base at the same time, which will cripple the NHS and the economy.”

He continued, “This is evidenced by Wetherspoon sales which have been positive in the last few weeks in spite of storms and health scares.”

Martin added, “Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned in a televised address to the nation that most residents would get coronavirus, but he ruled out a full lockdown like other European countries. Rutte says his government wants to build ‘group immunity’ while waiting for a vaccine, by letting the least vulnerable people catch the virus while protecting the elderly and sick. This could take ‘months, or even longer’.”

Britain’s hospitality industry contributes more than £120bn a year to the economy and is worth more than the automotive, pharmaceuticals and aeronautics industries combined. More than 3.2 million people work in pubs, restaurants and other outlets, making it the third-largest sector for employment. A further 2.8 million work in the wider supply chain.

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