Customers were asked to leave the JDW pub yesterday (10 November) just before 3pm following a suspected norovirus outbreak among staff at the venue.
Although the bug has yet to be confirmed, the pubco made the move because of the heavily contagious element of the virus, which means that anyone who comes into contact with contaminated surfaces may fall ill with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea.
Eddie Gershon, a spokesman for Wetherspoon, told The Morning Advertiser: “We can confirm that the pub was closed voluntarily by Wetherspoon at 2.45pm today.
“A number of staff have been taken ill with suspected norovirus.
“It is important to say, at this stage, that the norovirus has not been confirmed.
“The council’s environmental health officer has been told. Wetherspoon has begun a deep cleaning and sanitising of the whole pub.
“We would hope that the pub will reopen sometime on Saturday afternoon.”
A spokesperson for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said: “Wetherspoon advised the council’s environmental health team earlier today that they were taking the step of closing the Opera House in Royal Tunbridge Wells following an outbreak of suspected norovirus.”
The quick decision to shut the venue and undertake a deep clean follows the Toby Carvery case earlier this year, where the Mitchells & Butlers pub-restaurant chain was found to have breached its duty at the Exeter Arms site where 280 customers fell ill with norovirus.
As a result, it was forced to make a payment claimed to have been in the region of £500,000 to customers.