Jane Imrie

Wetherspoon boss: lockdowns are not “beneficial in battling COVID-19”

The chairman of pub chain Wetherspoon has joined the debate over whether lockdowns are effective in the fight against COVID-19.

The firm’s chairman Tim Martin has argued that lockdowns are unnecessary in the battle against coronavirus, and can instead be tackled with “social distancing combined with rigorous handwashing”.

Mr Martin wrote an article on the topic for the pub trade press, in which he referenced Sweden’s approach to the pandemic as a more effective way to manage the virus, and stated that “the truth is out there somewhere, but is hidden in a fog by a lack of reliable information”.

In the company’s latest update this morning, the firm announced that like-for-like bar and food sales were -16.9 per cent for the 44 days to August 16.

Mr Martin commented: “There is a debate in the scientific community, and among observers and commentators, as to whether lockdowns are beneficial in battling Covid-19.

“Many academics, including Nobel Prize winner Michael Levitt of Stanford University and Swedish government adviser Johan Giesecke, believe that they are not - and that social distancing, combined with rigorous handwashing are the practises for which there is genuine scientific evidence.

“The debate is riven with rancour and political factionalism, but I believe, on the balance of the arguments, that avoiding full lockdowns and adopting the Swedish approach, is the better solution.”

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