Wetherspoon boss: Lift coronavirus restrictions on pubs at same time as non-essential shops, or ‘economic mayhem will inevitably follow’

Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has urged the UK Government to reopen pubs at the same time as non-essential shops, warning that the industry is “on its knees” and needs to reopen to save jobs.

Mr Martin said pubs make a massive contribution to the economy, with Wetherspoon alone paying about £10 of tax for every pound of profit it makes.

He said: “In the last 10 years Wetherspoon has generated £6.1 billion of taxes, something we are very proud of.

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“In the financial year to July 2019, before the pandemic, Wetherspoon, its customers and employees generated £764 million of taxes – £1 in every thousand collected by the UK Government.

“Many people have correctly pointed out that the three lockdowns of the last year have been a disaster for the hospitality, retail, arts and entertainment industries, but our calculations show that they have been an even bigger disaster for public finances.

“The taxes paid by Wetherspoon are mirrored by thousands of companies which have been annihilated by lockdowns.

“As a result, government finances have been annihilated even more.”

Mr Martin said Wetherspoon has registered more than 50 million customer visits to its pubs, using the Test and Trace system, without a single outbreak of Covid-19, as defined by the health authorities.

The chairman of pub chain Wetherspoon is calling on the UK Government to open pubs at the same time as non-essential shops.

He maintained that hospitality groups have provided the Government with information that “clearly demonstrates” that pubs and restaurants are Covid-secure environments, following the investment of hundreds of millions of pounds in safety and hygiene measures.

“The Government knows this is correct, since it has access to Test and Trace information.

“Yet the Government has ignored this information and has even banned golf – the ultimate social distancing sport.”

He added: “Surely it is possible for the hospitality industry to reopen at the same time as non-essential shops, now that a vaccine exists, on the basis of the social distancing and hygiene regulations.

“Unless the industry does reopen on that basis, economic mayhem will inevitably follow.”

Meanwhile, All Bar One owner Michells & Butlers is to tap investors for £350 million to shore up its finances as pubs and bars remain shut across the UK.

It said it will issue about 167 million new ordinary shares with a subscription price of 210p per share.

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