Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has compared the restrictions placed on pubs and restaurants throughout the pandemic to those imposed during the First World War.
Jane Imrie

Wetherspoon boss fears pandemic may replicate WWI legacy for hospitality industry

The boss of pub chain Wetherspoon has expressed concerns that restrictions imposed during the pandemic may impact hospitality for decades to come.

The firm’s chairman Tim Martin compared the restrictions placed on pubs and restaurants (before the second national lockdown) to those imposed during the First World War.

Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin commented: “A particular anxiety in the hospitality industry relates to the future timescale for the ending of “temporary” regulations.

“Veterans of the industry will recall that the afternoon closing of pubs between about 3pm and 6pm was imposed in the First World War, to encourage munitions workers to return to their factories - but the requirement for afternoon closing was only abolished in 1986.”

Mr Martin made the comments as part of Wetherspoon’ latest trading update, which showed like-for-like sales decreased by 27.6 per cent in the 15 weeks to November 8.

Commenting on the restrictions, he continued: “For any pub or restaurant company trading in different parts of the UK, and for customers generally, the constantly changing national and local regulations, combined with geographical areas moving from one tier to another in the different jurisdictions, are baffling and confusing.

“The entire regulatory situation is a complete muddle. However, the initial regulations, following reopening, introduced on 4 July, were carefully thought through, followed thorough consultation, and were based on solid scientific foundations of social distancing and hygiene.

“The benefits of the regulatory hyperactivity since then, including the imposition of a curfew, are questionable.”

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