Government would be making ‘colossal’ mistake if pubs close, claims Wetherspoon boss

Boris Johnson during a visit to Wetherspoons Metropolitan Bar in London with Tim Martin, chair of JD

Boris Johnson during a visit to Wetherspoons Metropolitan Bar in London with Tim Martin, chair of JD Wetherspoon. Picture: Henry Nicholls/PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The chairman of pub giant Wetherspoon has claimed that the government will make a tactical error if it resorts to a 'de facto lockdown' of pubs because of the coronavirus crisis.

Tim Martin said Holland's actions - admitting that most people will get the virus, while protecting the elderly and sick, thereby building up group immunity - are the best path for the UK.

He pointed out the huge impact pubs have on the economy, amid fears of huge job losses after prime minister Boris Johnson told people to stop going to pubs.

The Brexiteer pub chain boss said: 'The difference in keeping the hospitality industry open, even with reduced sales, is colossal.

'The industry contributes £120 billion a year of tax and six million jobs. Wetherspoon alone contributes £2 million a day of tax.

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'Lockdown delays the inevitable and destroys the tax base at the same time, which will cripple the NHS and the economy.

'The prime minister should show Dutch courage and follow the example of their PM, Mark Rutte - and avoid taking French leave of his senses by following the lockdown example of perfidious Emmanuel Macron.

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'The Dutch approach has the additional advantage of being in tune with the robust instincts of the nation. This is evidenced by Wetherspoon sales, which have been positive in the last few weeks in spite of storms and health scares.

'The board continues to plan partially mitigating actions. The company will announce its interim results on 20 March 2020, when a further update will be provided.'

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