Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has demanded scientists publish evidence of coronavirus transmission in pubs after an expert said drinking indoors in bars raised the risk of transmission.
Bacteria expert Professor Hugh Pennington said there has been a Covid-19 ‘outbreak associated with pubs’ and for ’90 per cent of cases, that was how they caught it.’
The Aberdeen University professor also told BBC Radio 5 last week that being indoors in a pub can increase the risk of infection as ‘hot and steamy’ environments helps the virus ‘get about’.
His interview came the day after Aberdeen was put back into lockdown after more than 20 pubs and restaurants were involved in a cluster of coronavirus cases in the city.
Mr Martin said just five of his 43,000 members of staff tested positive for the virus by the time lockdown measures were announced on March 20 – when ‘the virus was rampant in the country’.
Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin (pictured with Boris Johnson in 2019) has demanded scientists publish evidence of coronavirus transmission in pubs after an expert said drinking indoors in bars raised the risk of transmission
Bacteria expert Professor Hugh Pennington said there has been a Covid-19 ‘outbreak associated with pubs’ and for ’90 per cent of cases, that was how they caught it’
He said there have been a few cases in his pubs ‘but nothing, it appears, which could be described as an outbreak’ and has urged Professor Pennington to publish his findings.
He added in the statement, which appeared in The Morning Advertiser, that ‘there have been high levels of transmission in hospitals, care homes, abattoirs and certain production facilities’.
Mr Martin highlighted that since pubs have reopened, the level of testing has ‘dramatically increased’.
He added: ‘There has been a handful of individual cases of positive tests for the virus in our pubs, but nothing, it appears, which could be described as an outbreak and there appears not to have been, up until now, a case of transmission from person to person among staff or from staff to customers or vice versa.
‘Given the importance of the pub industry to its staff, customers and as a taxpayer to the Exchequer, it would be very useful if Pennington could publish the basis of his assumptions so they could be thoroughly analysed and peer reviewed.’
Wetherspoons reopened 750 of its pubs on July 4 while bringing in stringent safety measures (pictured) to stop the spread of coronavirus
Mr Martin said just five of his 43,000 members of staff tested positive for the virus by the time lockdown measures were announced on March 20 – when ‘the virus was rampant in the country’. Pictured: A Wetherspoon pub in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, last month
Wetherspoons reopened 750 of its pubs on July 4 while bringing in stringent safety measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Wetherspoons customers must use one entrance with a separate exit door where possible.
Entry and exit are marked out by floor stickers and/or barriers and door security will monitor the numbers entering and leaving to prevent overcrowding.
All of its pubs have screens at the tills and screened-off seating areas where it is not possible to separate the tables by two metres.
Employees have their temperatures taken on arrival for their shifts too, among other measures.
But some vowed to boycott the company due to the way Mr Martin treated his staff during the lockdown.
The businessman had told his 43,000 workers they could get a job at a supermarket and they would not be paid until the Government’s furlough scheme kicked in.
But the outspoken Brexiteer, 65, U-turned after pressure from a huge public backlash.
Social distancing signage is displayed at the Regal Moon – a Wetherspoon pub on – July 04 in Rochdale
It was last week revealed that Wetherspoon has written to its head office staff to say that nearly a third of staff risk losing their jobs amid a round of cuts at the pub chain.
The company said that 110 to 130 of the 417 roles in its head office could be axed as it scales back its expansion.
Chief executive John Hutson said that all head office staff, including those who are regionally based, will be affected.
Those in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will escape the cuts.
‘The decision is mainly a result of a downturn in trade in the pub and restaurant industry generally, a reduction in the company’s rate of expansion and a reduction in the number of pubs operated from 955 in 2015 to 873 today,’ he said in a statement on Thursday morning.
He said Wetherspoon would work with staff who want to take voluntary redundancy, early retirement, or reduce their working hours in order to reduce the number of people it has to fire.