Wetherspoon Confirms 66 Employees At 50 Pubs Have Tested Positive For Coronavirus
Wetherspoon chairman and founder Tim Martin confirmed that 66 members of staff had tested positive for the virus, but said that he doesn't believe that pubs are unsafe.
The chain employs more than 41,500 people, but Martin said the vast majority of the 861 pubs owned by Wetherspoon hadn't recorded even a single positive coronavirus test.
This comes after Aberdeen University Professor Hugh Pennington said that pubs are 'far, far more dangerous places to be' than schools last month.
Pennington was being asked about the viability of sending kids back to school during the pandemic, but his claims were dismissed by Martin, who says that pubs are not dangerous.
Martin said: "The situation with regard to pubs has been widely misunderstood.
"It is clearly not the case that pubs are 'dangerous places to be'.
Martin added that Wetherspoon pubs had been fitted with loads of safety measures to help combat the spread of coronavirus, and at great expense.
The businessman said that the company had invested £15 million on social distancing and hygiene measures.
That figure includes reduced capacities for pubs, further spacing between tables, installing screens at tables and points of service, and providing hand sanitiser to all of its locations.
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Martin continued: "The data we have shows that the infection rate has risen, mainly due to social interactions, particularly private household gatherings.
"In shops and hospitality venues there are strict measures in place to ensure they are Covid-free, whereas it is much easier to inadvertently pass on the virus in someone's house, where people are more relaxed and less vigilant."
Wetherspoon claims that around 32 million punters have flocked back to their pubs since the grand reopening on 4 July, and said that - of the 50 pubs that have returned positive tests - 40 have been just one person testing positive, and six have returned two tests.
Two pubs had three employees test positive, and a further two had four cases.
A Wetherspoon spokesperson explained: "Most of the reported cases have been mild or asymptomatic and 28 of the 66 employees have already returned to work, after self-isolating in accordance with medical guidelines."
Martin further argued that without the hospitality sector, people would be socialising in less regulated and unsupervised circumstances.
He said: "If pubs are closed, or restricted so much that they become unprofitable, a great deal of the strenuous effort of the hospitality industry's 3.2 million employees, currently engaged on upholding hygiene and social distancing standards, will be lost - leaving the public to socialise at home or elsewhere, in unsupervised circumstances.
"Although it is clearly possible for Covid-19 infections to take place in pubs and shops, the evidence indicates that the risk is low, provided social distancing and hygiene rules are followed, and common sense is used."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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