Wetherspoon boss accuses Government of 'lockdown by stealth'

The head of JD Wetherspoon has accused the government of expanding “some form of stealth lockdown” as new restrictions will keep nearly half of the pubs closed.

The company’s shares fell Friday morning after Tim Martin, the chain’s founder and chairman, said 366 of its pubs will remain closed in light of new tiered measures.

This week, the government confirmed that from December 3, pubs and restaurants will have to be closed to dine-in customers in Tier 3 areas and only operate as part of a takeaway or delivery service.

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

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

The founder said pubs in Tier 3 areas will remain closed as “opening take-out, for example, is unlikely to be a realistic proposition”.

Analysis by real estate specialist Altus Group revealed that 16,010 pubs in Tier 3 areas will remain closed.

“The company has campaigned for pubs to return to the rules agreed between the pub industry, officials, local authorities and health authorities that were put in place when the pubs reopened in July,” said Martin.

“These rules significantly reduced pub capacity and provided strict social distancing and hygiene standards, but made it difficult for the pubs to be profitable.

“It is very disappointing to see another set of regulations that have effectively closed half of our pubs.

“In reality, the government has expanded some form of clandestine lockdown in much of the country.”

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