Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has labelled the UK lockdown ‘over the top’ and said that he hopes to reopen his chain of pubs ‘in or around June.’
The popular pub chain has 76 pubs around Scotland, and around 900 throughout the UK in total.
Tim Martin came under fire recently for laying off 40,000 workers, and advising them to ‘find work in Tesco.’
The pub chain was one of the last to close its doors shortly before the lockdown came into force. At the time, Martin criticised the Government’s advice to close, and argued that supermarkets posed a bigger risk of spreading the infection.
He then refused to pay his workers until the Government had finalised the promised bailout, leaving thousands of workers without pay.
Some of Tim Martin’s pubs were then sprayed with graffiti with the words ‘pay your staff’ – including the Sir John Stirling Maxwell pub in Glasgow. Another pub in Crystal Palace, south London was also targeted.
JD Wetherspoons have today announced that they plan to raise £141 million by selling 15.7 million shares.
The chief medical officer from Public Health England said today that it may be quite a while before pubs are allowed to open again… Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said at today’s Government briefing “At various different points they might involve the congregation of individuals and one has to be very painstaking and careful about thinking through some of these before we make the wrong move to relax measures.
“I think we have to be extremely surefooted and extremely painstaking about this.
“This virus will absolutely come back. This is with us for quite some time, potentially for as long as until we get a vaccine.
“So from that perspective we have to be really careful and really surefooted and I’m just not going to suggest for a moment that any of this should be rushed.”
64 year old Tory party donor Tim Martin said at the beginning of the lockdown that he felt the measures had gone too far. He told Sky News at the time, “Supermarkets are very, very crowded. Pubs are much less crowded.
“There’s hardly been any transmission of the virus within pubs and I think it’s over the top to shut them. That’s a commercial view but also a common sense view.”
Mr Martin says that if required, he is willing to implement social distancing measures in his pubs, and may implement a ‘regulars only’ policy if he has to.
He says that he believes the pubs will be less crowded now that the football is cancelled, and that many people will still be self isolating.
Lots of people have taken to social media today to react to the news. Reactions are mixed, with many people worried that it could be too soon to think about reopening, while others have welcomed the idea.
One social media user on Twitter, ‘Banksia Plum’ commented “I see Wetherspoons are planning on opening in or around June…I’m planning on visiting Wetherspoons in or around never.”
While another Twitter user called Jack responded to the criticism, writing “As much as I dislike Tim Martin – let’s face it, none of the people who threaten to boycott Wetherspoons have ever been inside one anyway.”