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Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin slams government for ‘reckless decisions’

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has accused the Government of making ‘reckless decisions’ in its Covid-19 hospitality rules.

Mr Martin said it was a ‘fallacy’ that venues will reopen on Wednesday as he slams the Government for effectively closing all pubs in England ‘by stealth’ with the new rules.

He said Boris Johnson is ’embarking on economically ruinous policies, with no health benefits’ by imposing the contentious new tier system.

Mr Martin, the founder and chairman of the chain, has written to MPs ahead of Tuesday’s Commons vote on the draconian new measures.

The Prime Minister has imposed brutal Tier 2 and 3 rules on 99 per cent of the country with the restrictions expected to last until mid-January at the earliest. 

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin (pictured with Boris Johnson last year) has accused the Government of making ‘reckless decisions’ in its Covid-19 policies

Mr Martin, the founder and chairman of the chain, said it was a 'fallacy' that pubs will reopen on Wednesday when England's current lockdown ends. Pictured: A staff member in a Wetherspoons pub in London

Mr Martin, the founder and chairman of the chain, said it was a ‘fallacy’ that pubs will reopen on Wednesday when England’s current lockdown ends. Pictured: A staff member in a Wetherspoons pub in London

WHAT ARE THE NEW TIER RULES? 

Tier One will be the default and measures will not be allowed to get more relaxed in any part of England:

  • Rule of six and social distancing apply to gatherings indoors and outdoors;
  • Pubs and restaurants are allowed to open with table service only and an 11pm closing time.

Tier Two

  • People from separate households cannot meet indoors and the rule of six applies outside;
  • Pubs must close unless operating as restaurants, with alcoholic drinks served alongside meals;

Tier Three will be the toughest level of restrictions and rules have been tightened up to make them stricter than before. All of the Tier Two rules apply as well as the following:

  • Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas, theatres and bowling alleys must close;
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes must close except for takeaway;
  • Shops and hairdressers and salons will be allowed to remain open; 
  • Groups of six will be allowed to meet outdoors only; 
  • Crowds at live events will be banned;
  • People should avoid travelling out of, or into, Tier Three areas unless it is unavoidable.

Venues in Tier 3 regions – such as Manchester and Newcastle – can only open for takeaways, which was branded a ‘hammer blow’ for the beleaguered sector.

And in Tier 2 pubs can only serve alcohol if bought with a ‘substantial meal’, leaving drink-led pubs weighing up whether it was even commercially viable to trade.  

Mr Martin has written to all MPs claiming there was a lack of transparency from the Government.

He said: ‘A pub licence, unlike a restaurant licence, allows you to sell beer, wine and spirits “for consumption on the premises”, without a table meal – and this is now prohibited.

‘The reality is that pubs in Tier 3 will be physically shut from December 2 and pubs in Tier 2, if they open at all, will be trading as restaurants, not pubs.

‘There are only a tiny number of pubs in Tier 1- and in those you can’t even order at the bar.’

He said the Government was making ‘reckless decisions’, with MPs only having an occasional opportunity to intervene.

‘There is overwhelming scientific evidence that lockdowns and quasi-lockdowns can be counterproductive, as the World Health Organisation has recently emphasised.

‘The Government has spent around £350 billion on lockdowns so far – around three times what is spent annually on the health service. That expenditure will continue at about £6 billion a week for the indefinite future.

‘I am hopeful that MPs will see that the Government is embarking on economically ruinous policies, with no health benefits.

‘Pubs have invested tens of millions of pound to make them safe, in accordance with regulations devised by the Government, local authorities and health officials.’

The test and trace results showed there has been very little transfer of the virus in pubs and restaurants, he added. 

Mr Martin last week revealed that 366 of its pubs will remain closed in light of new tiered measures – sending its shares diving. 

The Wetherspoon boss (pictured) last week branded the contentious tier system 'lockdown by stealth' as he revealed that 366 of his own pubs will remain closed

The Wetherspoon boss (pictured) last week branded the contentious tier system ‘lockdown by stealth’ as he revealed that 366 of his own pubs will remain closed

Analysis by real estate specialists Altus Group has said that 16,010 pubs will remain closed in Tier 3 areas.

He branded Boris Johnson’s contentious tier system ‘lockdown by stealth’ as landlords said the policy amounts to ‘business torture’. 

He said: ‘These rules greatly reduced pub capacity and provided strict social distancing and hygiene standards but, with difficultly, allowed pubs to trade viably.

‘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.’

Earlier today, Environment Secretary George Eustice revealed that a scotch egg will count as a ‘substantial meal’ and a much-criticised diktat forcing drinkers to leave pubs or restaurants as soon as they have eaten their food will be scrapped.

Mr Eustice said a scotch egg will count as a substantial meal - but his cabinet colleague Robert Jenrick said recently a pasty without chips wouldn't

Mr Eustice said a scotch egg will count as a substantial meal – but his cabinet colleague Robert Jenrick said recently a pasty without chips wouldn’t

Drinkers enjoy a pint in Borough Market on Friday as it emerged drinkers in Tier 2 will have to leave the pub as soon as you finish your meal. Downing Street has now performed a U-turn

Drinkers enjoy a pint in Borough Market on Friday as it emerged drinkers in Tier 2 will have to leave the pub as soon as you finish your meal. Downing Street has now performed a U-turn

Fancy a pint? You’ll have to buy a meal (not just crisps)… unless it’s a scotch egg

Pubs can remain open in areas under the most stringent rules – but only if they serve customers meals with their drinks.

Those that just sell alcohol must close under ‘tier three’, the toughest new measures.

Diners will be required to eat ‘substantial meals’ rather than crisps, nuts or other bar snacks.

Social mixing will be banned both indoors and in private gardens, so people cannot go out with anyone outside their household.

Both the police and the council will be responsible for enforcing the ‘substantial meal’ rules.

Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield, said: ‘It’s not entirely clear if you had a sausage roll with a bowl of chips, would that be substantial? I’m not clear on that.’ 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that only a pasty that came with a side and was served to a table in a pub could be considered as ‘a normal meal’. 

But today Environment Secretary George Eustice said a scotch egg would count. 

Mr Eustice has said the popular egg and sausagemeat snack will allow people to visit the pub in Tier 2 with friends or family for an alcoholic drink.

Previously his cabinet colleague Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick claimed a snack like a pasty on its own doesn’t count as a ‘substantial meal’ unless it is served with chips and salad. 

Mr Eustice said: ‘I think a Scotch egg would probably count as a substantial meal if there were table service. This is a term that’s understood in licensing’.

The move is likely to mean that a scotch egg will be popping up on almost every pub menu in England in the run-up to Christmas. 

One pubgoer tweeted today: ‘First it was a pasty with a side salad, now its a scotch egg with table service. Next it will be a packet of crisps as long as you don’t wash your hands after going the toilet’. One wag wrote: ‘Twenty Jagerbombs and a scotch egg please landlord’. While another tweeted: ‘Quickly buy shares in scotch egg manufacturers they are gonna go through the roof’.

The Environment Secretary also said today that customers will not have to go home after finishing the final mouthful of their food but warned: ‘You can’t sit at a table all night ordering drink’.

On Friday Tier 2 diners in England were told by No 10 that they cannot linger at all after their food is finished – and would be expected to go home even when they have more left to drink after the national lockdown ends on December 2.

Just over 700 pubs in Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly will be able to open to everyone from Wednesday – with the remaining 37,500 in England forced to serve alcohol if bought with a ‘substantial meal’ in Tier 2 or offer takeway or close completely in Tier 3. Thousands of jobs are set to go.   

The U-turn came as it was revealed the Government is also planning extra cash or bars and restaurants hit by upper-tier closures. A source told The Daily Telegraph: ‘There are already grants of £2,000 and £3,000 for businesses in Tiers 2 and 3 but we recognise we need to do more.’   

The rules has left many pubs weighing up whether it was even commercially viable to trade. Mr Johnson’s tiers plan has enraged the hospitality trade who already believe pubs, bars and eateries are being unfairly blamed for the spread of coronavirus. Just 5 per cent of Covid-19 cases have been transmitted in the hospitality industry in the UK. 

Tory MP Nigel Evans said today: ‘We really need the data to demonstrate that it really is the hospitality trade that’s the devil here’.

Landlords will still be expected to ask their customers to leave – or face hefty fines for breaching the Government’s strict coronavirus legislation – with critics accusing the PM of treating the public ‘like children’.

One critic tweeted: ‘How the f*** can having an extra glass of wine after your meal at the same table increase your chances of getting coronavirus?’. 

Pubs are launching so-called ‘Boris menus’ of cheap tapas-style plates of food that drinkers can be order through the day so they can enjoy a drink with family or friends after December 2.  

A substantial meal is defined by the Government as a ‘full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal’ – with Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick claiming a pasty on its own doesn’t count, but when served with chips and salad it does.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk