Scottish Daily Mail

We’ve got lock­down by stealth, says Martin

- Wetherspoons · Emma McClarkin

WETHER­SPOONS’ boss has ac­cused min­is­ters of im­pos­ing ‘lock­down by stealth’ amid warn­ings the tier sys­tem will close four in five pubs.

The new rules – which are tougher than be­fore – come into force on De­cem­ber 2 when the Eng­land­wide lock­down ends.

But pub groups have warned the re­stric­tions will ‘ cause car­nage’, with Wether­spoons’ founder Tim Martin say­ing his firm would be forced to shut 366 of its 879 pubs.

Martin, an out­spo­ken critic of coro­n­avirus curbs, said yes­ter­day: ‘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.’

Last month Wether­poons recorded its first an­nual loss since 1984.

And Martin claimed there is ‘no ev­i­dence of wide­spread trans­mis­sion of the virus in pubs’.

The lat­est edi­tion of the pub busi­ness’s in-house magazine Wether­spoons News ac­cuses politi­cians of be­com­ing ‘ dis­ci­ples of failed fore­cast­ers’ and sci­en­tists of stok­ing ‘project fear’.

Chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer Chris Whitty was crit­i­cised for telling MPs that a ‘sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion’ of ex­po­sure to the virus hap­pened at hos­pi­tal­ity venues – based on data from just 98 pubs and 67 cafes and restau­rants.

But the Bri­tish Beer and Pub As­so­ci­a­tion says the new Tier Two and Three re­stric­tions com­ing into ef­fect on Wed­nes­day will ren­der 30,000 pubs ‘un­vi­able’.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion s ai d t his i ncluded 16,454 i n Tier Three re­gions that will be forced to re­main shut as a mat­ter of course.

Emma McClarkin, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Bri­tish Beer and Pub As­so­ci­a­tion, said: ‘ We can­not over­state how se­ri­ous the sit­u­a­tion is.’

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