The posters were pages from JDW’s publication Wetherspoon News and featured articles from national newspapers dated before Christmas.
One was a story from the Daily Mail, which claimed there were fewer beds taken up by Covid patients than in 2019, deaths were a “fraction of the grim forecasts” and some 95% of fatalities had underlying causes. Another claimed Government ministers “stoked fear to justify lockdowns”.
The posters were lambasted on social media, accusing JDW of encouraging people to ignore lockdown restrictions.
Hey #Wetherspoons. Can you take down the Covid posters you’ve stuck up in your pub windows? One’s in #Catford, 500m from #Lewishamhospital, which is full of #Covid19 patients. Your posters just encourage people to ignore the lockdown restrictions. Come on. pic.twitter.com/rhbvX0AD2v— Greg Matthews (@happyharada) January 9, 2021
Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville also shared a letter to JDW boss Tim Martin, demanding the removal of the posters and said: “Totally inappropriate given the number of deaths we’re seeing locally and pressure on our health services.”
The letter pointed to the 272 residents of Hackney, east London who had lost their lives to the virus and how rates in the area were increasing.
Glanville also claimed he had lobbied the Government throughout the crisis for more business support and acknowledged the difficult situation faced by pubs, but said there was “no excuse for spreading mistrust and misinformation", which he said could ultimately cost lives.
“Your posters are a slap in the face to everyone, especially frontline public sector staff that have sacrificed much to keep themselves and those around them safe – by staying home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.”
Today I wrote to Tim Martin & Wetherspoons demanding they remove these shambolic anti-lockdown posters. Totally inappropriate given number of deaths we're seeing locally & pressure on our health services.— Mayor of Hackney (@mayorofhackney) January 11, 2021
Staff at Baxter's Court are grt & pubs are hurting, but this is still wrong pic.twitter.com/DM4GENUB9s
A JDW spokesman said: “The heading for the posters is ‘read all about it’, which refers to the online edition of Wetherspoon News.
“The online edition has articles by most leading newspapers including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, New Statesman, Daily Telegraph and The Independent.
“Having said that, the posters have been up for six weeks and it is fair to say a few of the comments are out of date.
“The posters are being taken down from all JDW pubs. It is vital in a democracy to have an informed debate.
“As a result, there may be an opportunity to replace the posters with more up to date articles in due course.”