Wetherspoons’ boss calls for pubs to reopen at the same time as non-essential shops to save jobs in the industry.
The chairman of JD Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, has warned that the pub industry is ‘on its knees’ and needs to be opened to save jobs.
He went onto explain that pubs made a massive contribution to the economy, with Wetherspoons chain paying about £10 of tax for every £1 of profit they make.
Much of the hospitality industry across the UK is currently closed unless they can offer takeaway food and drink, with a number of restrictions also in place on that.
Scientists have warned that talks of reopening pubs, bars and restaurants are too premature.
However, Martin argues that pubs and restaurants are ‘Covid-secure’ having invested in safety measures like plastic screens, table-service only, floor markers and more.
He said: “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.”
He added that the various lockdown measures imposed on pubs since March last year could spell a ‘disaster’ for finances.
In the financial year to July 2019, JD Wetherspoon, its customers and employees generated £764m of taxes, Martin said.
He added: “The amount of tax paid by Wetherspoon is replicated, according to the size of the company, throughout the pub industry, and shows just how important pubs are to the economy.”
It comes after chief executive of the Young’s pub chain, Patrick Dardis accused the prime minister of a ‘lack of respect’ for the sector and for basing the decision to close pubs on ‘unproved’ science – a claim experts dispute.
He added that the industry needed a ‘road map’ to reopening with social distancing restrictions in place but that these should only last a few months.
Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter medical school said talk of reopening pubs by April was premature.
Adding: “What the executives of pubs need to know is that failure to get it right equals back to square one. And back to square one equals much more pain economically, much more hardship.”
He said people drink alcohol to relax and that one of the consequence of relaxing is that ‘you drop your guard’.
Industry figures released last week show a net loss of almost 6,000 licensed premises last year, triple that of 2019.
The hospitality industry is one of the hardest-hit sectors throughout the pandemic with UK Hospitality boss Kate Nicholls recently warning that there could be ‘very little’ left if closures last until May.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce the ‘roadmap’ to leave lockdown a week from now, with some reporting they expect the reopening of non-essential shops to happen in a matter of weeks.
The Times reports that ministers are examining plans that could allow people to take breaks as early as the Easter holidays. A government source told the paper: “There’s an active discussion about how soon we can do it and we’ll be guided by the data.
“There’s talk of April at the earliest, but a lot of things have to go right. It’s unlikely but it is being talked about as a possibility.”
Around 20 people involved in mass brawl ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens
The violence spilled out into the street
A large group of people were involved in a mass fight ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens last night.
Around 20 people were caught up in the large brawl on Monday evening, and according to reports some were armed with knives.
The fight took place outside Morrisons on the end of Oldham Street, and happened around 9:30pm.
Witnesses reported seeing some of the suspects carrying knives, although police didn’t recover any from the scene, and busses were forced to stop as the violence spread out onto the road.
Someone who witnessed the fight said on Twitter: “Piccadilly gardens is the roughest place on earth… a lovely night out helping ruined by a group of young kids kicking each others faces in”.
Officers responded to the incident, but no arrests were made or serious injuries reported.
This incident was the third of serious violence in just a few days.
Saturday afternoon saw another incident outside Morrisons in Piccadilly Gardens, in which a man was slashed in the face.
And on Sunday a brawl involving two tables at Barca bar in Castlefield happened, with some involved arming themselves with weapons like bar furniture and a baseball bat.
Leading scientists call for end of face masks and social distancing by June
Do you agree?
Leading scientists have written to the UK government calling for social distancing and face masks to be scrapped from June.
In total 22 scientists have signed the communication, saying that these measures should finish on June 22nd – the same date limits on social contact are set to be scrapped in England.
One of the scientists who has added their name to the letter is Dr Roland Salmon, the former director of the communicable disease centre in Wales.
Dr Salmon told BBC Radio Wales: “I am not venting my frustration but I do think some dialogue is well overdue.
“I have always felt that there has been little credible evidence benefit for many of the measures that we take.”
According to him, the letter was written to encourage the government to focus on protecting vulnerable people rather than the masses as we move forward.
Dr Salmon said we need to deal with the ‘here and now’ when asked about the threat of variants, going on to add that the vaccine has shown it helps prevent severe disease and death.
He added: “We can’t stop living forever while we wait for things to happen”.
Scientists who’ve signed the letter include Prof Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG).
There’s also Prof Anthony Brookes, a geneticist and health data scientist at the University of Leicester, and Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University.
The letter reads: “We are being told simultaneously that we have successful vaccines and that major restrictions on everyday life must continue indefinitely. Both propositions cannot be true.
“We need to give more weight to the data on the actual success of the vaccines and less to theoretical risks of vaccine escape and/or surge in a largely vaccinated population.”
It continues: “Covid-19 no longer requires exceptional measures of control in everyday life, especially where there have been no evaluations and little credible evidence of benefit.
“Measures to reduce or discourage social interaction are extremely damaging to the mental health of citizens; to the education of children and young people; to people with disabilities; to new entrants to the workforce; and to the spontaneous personal connections from which innovation and enterprise emerge.”
Boris Johnson is regarded as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters
It follows weeks of allegations against the PM
According to a new poll Boris Johnson is seen as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters in Britain, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer seen as more trustworthy.
The poll from Ipsos MORI was shared by the Evening Standard, and comes after weeks of leaks and allegations about sleaze aimed at the prime minister.
The research found that Mr Johnson is trusted by just 35% of voters and deemed untrustworthy by 59%, while Sir Keir is seen as trustworthy by 42% and is untrusted by 41%.
Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “On honesty Boris Johnson is clearly trumped by Keir Starmer, so this is an area of potential risk for him.
“However, his own supporters still trust him, and the public overall have never seen it as one of his strongest attributes … and as previous leaders such as Tony Blair have shown, you don’t have to be ahead on trust to win elections.
“The key question is whether and if these stories continue and start to change the public’s overall view on him as PM.”
The poll was taken following weeks of reports about murky donations being used to refurbish the prime minister’s flat, as well as disclosures about covert lobbying.
However, it was undertaken before the most recent allegations that Mr Johnson said he’d rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than have another lockdown, so those reports won’t have been taken into consideration by those polled.
Despite all the recent controversy, the prime minister and government’s net satisfaction hasn’t changed much since March, with both Mr Johnson (44 satisfied/50 dissatisfied) and Sir Keir (36/46) having net negative ratings.
Ipsos MORI interviewed 1090 adults across the UK by telephone from April 16th to the 22nd – you can find full details here.