‘Country appears to be heading towards lockdown by stealth’ says Tim Martin

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Trade impact: uncertainty and Plan B measures could make sales predictions an issue, JD Wetherspoon stated (image: Getty/ The Good Brigade)
Trade impact: uncertainty and Plan B measures could make sales predictions an issue, JD Wetherspoon stated (image: Getty/ The Good Brigade)

Related tags Legislation Jd wetherspoon Tim martin Government

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has warned the nation looks to be nearing a “lockdown by stealth”, impacting consumer confidence and trade.

The Plan B measures, which were announced last week, include face masks in all indoor settings, with the exception of hospitality venues and vaccine passports for entry into nightclubs alongside advice to work from home.

The pub group said the uncertainty as well as the introduction of the changes by the Government makes sales and profits predictions “hazardous”.

Furthermore, these factors will impact the company’s first half results in particular, which could mean the results are loss making or marginally profitable, it stated.

No outbreaks

Martin said: “As previously reported, there have been no outbreaks, as defined by the health authorities, of Covid-19 among customers in JDW pubs.

“The typical British pub, contrary to received opinion in academia, is usually a bastion of social distancing.

“In spite of reports of labour shortages and supply difficulties, JDW pubs, with few exceptions, are fully stocked and fully staffed.

“However, the repeated warnings and calls for restrictions, mainly from SAGE members and academics, combined with arbitrary changes od direction from the Government, invariably at short notice, affect customer sentiment and trade.

“In effect, the country appears to be heading towards a lockdown by stealth.”

The pub group boss quoted a South African medical expert, who said the effects of Omicron variant were mild.

Positive impact in coming months

Martin added: “It is especially perplexing De Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, who discovered the Omicron variant, has said ‘Nothing I have seen about this new variant warrants the extreme action the UK Government has taken in response to it’.”

“She recently added, in reference to Omicron, ‘There is no reason you can’t trust us when we say to you it’s a mild disease…there is no need to hospitalise any of these mild cases…whether you are a child, whether you are 80 years old, whether you have been vaccinated, whether you have not been vaccinated…this is the real experience.’”

Martin went on to cite South Africa health care provider Netcare chief executive Dr Richard Friedland who was quoted as saying Omicron was “far milder than anything we experienced during the first three waves”.

The JDW boss said: “For reasons best know to themselves, perhaps in order to encourage more vaccinations, the UK Government and its advisers are creating an entirely different and more frightening impression of the variant, which appears to be at odds with the South African experience.

“In spite of these problems, booster vaccinations and better weather in the spring are likely to have a positive impact in the coming months.

“The company will continue to concentrate on providing high standards of service, reasonable prices and regular, small upgrades to the business.”

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