Wetherspoon’s Tim Martin says Government imposing lockdown ‘by stealth’

Tim Martin announces Wetherspoon results
Tim Martin announces Wetherspoon results (PA Wire)
12:14pm, Fri 27 Nov 2020
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The boss of JD Wetherspoon has accused the Government of extending “a form of lockdown by stealth” as he said new restrictions will keep almost half of its pubs shut.

Shares in the company dipped on Friday morning after Tim Martin, the founder and chairman of the chain, said 366 of its pubs will remain closed in light of new tiered measures.

This week, the Government confirmed that pubs and restaurants must close for dine-in customers in Tier 3 areas from December 3 and can only operate under takeaway or delivery services.

Coronavirus – Wed Sep 23, 2020 (PA Wire)

Mr Martin told shareholders that 315 Wetherspoon pubs are in Tier 3 areas after the regional system was confirmed on Thursday, while 51 sites in Northern Ireland and Scotland will also remain closed.

He said that 13 pubs in England will be in Tier 1, with 51 pubs in Wales operating with similar regulations. Meanwhile, 435 of Mr Martin’s pubs will be in Tier 2.

The founder said the pubs in Tier 3 areas will remain closed since “since opening for takeaways, for example, is unlikely to be a realistic proposition”.

Analysis by real estate specialists Altus Group has said that 16,010 pubs will remain closed in Tier 3 areas.

“The company has campaigned for pubs to revert to the rules agreed between the pub industry, civil servants, local authorities and health officials which were introduced when pubs reopened in July,” Mr Martin said.

“These rules greatly reduced pub capacity and provided strict social distancing and hygiene standards but, with difficultly, allowed pubs to trade viably.

“It is very disappointing that yet another raft of regulations has been introduced which has effectively closed half our pubs.

“In reality, the government has extended a form of lockdown, by stealth, in large swathes of the country.”

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