Wetherspoons pubs to shut doors despite boss saying ‘closure won’t save lives’

Wetherspoons will be closing its doors to punters across the UK – a day after it said it would be keeping pubs open.

Bosses have said the pub chain will comply with Boris Johnson's request for all bars, clubs, theatres and leisure facilities to close, in a country-wide effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Prime Minister's announcement comes as NHS England announced a further 39 people lost their lives to the virus.

He had previously only advised businesses to close, but has now said measures would be enforced if need be.

Johnson said he trusts all businesses owners to comply with the closures but changes to "licensing arrangements" will make the ban easy to enforce.

JD Wetherspoon boss, Tim Martin, had said closing pubs, bars and restaurants will not help stop coronavirus.

Speaking before the latest Number 10 conference, he said: "My instinct is that closure won’t save lives but will cost thousands of jobs and create unsustainable costs for the UK.

“As I understand it, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea’s successful approach to the virus has not involved closure.

"I’m obviously not an expert but I’ve got a view and that’s all I can say. People can accept it or not. Even if you’re not an epidemiologist you can look at what other countries do and weigh up what’s happened."

Martin also said 1,600 of his 43,000 staff were on sick pay because they were self-isolating, adding that he could not rule out job losses.

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Of the closures, Nik Antona, chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: "While the pubs industry will be devastated by the decision to force closure, it is exactly the type of decisive leadership that has been called for this week as many pubs hung in limbo.

"Pubs and the wider hospitality industry now have clear instruction that closing their doors is the right thing to do, and the confidence that the Government will support their staff and their business.

"This decision will ensure that they can emerge from this crisis in the best position to rebuild their businesses and continue to offer their vital community service to their customers.

"We're concerned that there seemed to be no mention of the British independent brewing industry in the statements – this is a vital industry that needs to be protected and supported if they are to continue to contribute so much to their local and the national economies.

"The Government needs to take further measures to support and protect this important industry by also deferring beer duty."

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