Wetherspoon boss accuses Government of 'lockdown by stealth'

JD Wetherspoon’s boss has accused the government of expanding “some form of stealth locking,” saying new restrictions will keep nearly half of pubs closed.

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

This week, the government confirmed that from December 3, pubs and restaurants should close to dinner customers in Tier 3 areas and that they can only operate with takeout or delivery services.

Mr Martin told shareholders that 315 Wetherspoon pubs will be 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 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 because “opening takeaways, for example, is unlikely to be a realistic proposition.”

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

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

“These rules drastically reduced pub capacity and established strict social distance and hygiene standards, but, with difficulty, allowed pubs to trade viably.

“It is very disappointing that another set of rules has been put in place, effectively closing half of our pubs.

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