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Wetherspoon’s is starting to plan for a reopening of its pubs and hotels “in or around June”, the company has announced.
The planned move is likely to be met with resistance from the government, which has already said pubs will be among the last businesses to open once the lockdown is lifted.
The chain’s boss, Tim Martin, has been highly critical of the coronavirus lockdown, saying last month it was “over the top” to shut pubs to fight the pandemic.
When the lockdown was announced, he was branded “absolutely outrageous” by his own staff after initially refusing to carry on paying them until the government promised to start its furlough scheme.
In a video message to staff, Martin also suggested they could find employment at supermarkets while the chain’s pubs remain shut.
At Wednesday’s No.10 briefing, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam was asked whether drinking in pub beer gardens, along with the return of Parkrun events, the opening of garden centres and beach trips, could return to the UK soon.
Warning the virus will return if lockdown measures are not eased very carefully, he said: ”These are complex and, at various different points, they might involve a congregation of individuals and one has to be very painstaking and very careful about thinking through some of these before we make the wrong move to relax measures.
“We have to be extremely sure-footed and extremely painstaking about this. This virus will absolutely come back.”