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Boss of pub chain Marston’s declares war on coronavirus red tape

Contact details? No, just pop in for a pint: Boss of pub chain Marston’s declares war on coronavirus red tape – and refuses to make staff wear masks because it would ‘feel like a hospital’

  • Pub chain Marston’s to let customers up to the bar when they re-open next week  
  • Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, will refuse to make staff wear masks 
  • The chain said it would leave pens and paper for customers to fill out their details

One of the country’s biggest pub chains has said it will not force drinkers to hand over their contact details – fearing the policy will put them off.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, is also refusing to make staff wear masks, claiming pubs should not feel like hospitals.

He said customers would be able to prop up the bar when pubs open next week – ignoring another safety guideline issued by the Government.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, is also refusing to make staff wear masks, claiming pubs should not feel like hospitals

Marston’s will re-open 90 per cent of its 1,400 sites from July 4 – and others in Wales and Scotland will follow once local lockdown restrictions are eased.

The brewer will spend several hundred thousand pounds on personal protective equipment for employees who want to use it for ‘their own peace of mind’ but not as a matter of course.

The Wolverhampton-based group, which owns the Pitcher & Piano and Revere chains, said it would leave pens and paper for customers to fill out their details if they wanted to.

It means this voluntary information, and potentially the records of those making digital bookings, will be the only data it can provide to help the Government’s track and trace efforts.

The brewer will spend several hundred thousand pounds on personal protective equipment for employees who want to use it for ¿their own peace of mind¿ but not as a matter of course [File photo]

The brewer will spend several hundred thousand pounds on personal protective equipment for employees who want to use it for ‘their own peace of mind’ but not as a matter of course [File photo]

It comes after industry body the British Beer and Pub Association raised privacy concerns about the collection and storage of personal customer data.

A spokesman said: ‘We do have significant concerns over the collection and storage of personal customer data when visiting the pub.

‘We welcome the Prime Minister’s pledge to work with the sector to make this manageable as it poses significant logistical challenges.’

The reduction of the two-metre social distancing rule threw a lifeline to pubs and restaurants – but has caused confusion, with some venues set to impose strict measures and some planning to introduce none at all – even within different pubs owned by the same company.

The guidance also stands in stark contrast to rules on public transport, where masks are mandatory.

Mr Findlay, 59, said issues such as PPE and contact details were ‘requests’ from the Government and not rules. 

He added there is a ‘degree of grey area and flexibility of guidance that is very helpful’, letting publicans make up their own minds about which bits they want to enforce.

The Wolverhampton-based group, which owns the Pitcher & Piano and Revere chains, said it would leave pens and paper for customers to fill out their details if they wanted to [File photo]

The Wolverhampton-based group, which owns the Pitcher & Piano and Revere chains, said it would leave pens and paper for customers to fill out their details if they wanted to [File photo]

Rival Wetherspoon’s – which is opening its 750 pubs in England from next week – has spent £11million on PPE and measures such as hand sanitiser machines and distancing signs to keep staff and customers safe. 

But, like Marston’s, it also will not force staff to wear it. The group has set up screens at the bar and between tables that are less than two metres apart.

Mr Findlay estimates Marston’s sites will need takings to be at around 50 to 60 per cent of pre-Covid levels in order to break even. Marston’s said lockdown wiped £40million off sales in March.

Mr Findlay urged ministers to lower VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent in hospitality to encourage punters to get out and spend. 

He said it will also be crucial to make pubs enjoyable places to visit, adding: ‘It’s important to me for pubs to look like pubs and not like hospitals because if they do, people won’t want to come here.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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