This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind
Thursday, 30 April 2020
Spoons In June? NO CHANCE
Since March 20th, almost all pubs in the UK have been closed, as part of Government mandated restrictions in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. That has included all 867 outlets run by the J D Wetherspoon chain, much to the chagrin of its chairman, tone-deaf Brexiteer Tim Martin. who claimed that keeping his business open would have no effect on transmission of the virus. Now it seems he is itching to reopen.
Back in your box, Mr Greedy
As the Guardianreported yesterday, “at the start of its half-yearly results, Wetherspoon said: ‘The company’s immediate priority is to manage the business during the current “lockdown” period. It is also starting to plan for a reopening of pubs and hotels in or around June’”. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, “Any reopening of pubs would have to be permitted by the government, which has not yet given any guidance about when it will start to ease restrictions”.
That has not stopped Spoons readying itself to jump the gun, claiming “Wetherspoon pubs are substantially larger than average, and most have outside facilities … The company is likely to make some changes to its operating model, assuming increased social distancing, and anticipates a gradual recovery in customer numbers”. Can’t wait to see how social distancing extends to the toilets late on a Friday or Saturday evening.
The pointlessly upbeat mood has even extended to the front page splash of today’s Daily Star, proclaiming “12 PINTS OF LAGER AND A PACKET OF CRISPS, PLEASE … Joy as Spoons gets set to reopen in June”. To which James Ball of The Bureau of Independent Journalism retorted “Tim Martin does not get to decide when the lockdown ends”.
Moreover, the Spoon Strike Twitter feed is already on the case: “The Coronavirus pandemic is far from over and Wetherspoons are already putting wealth before health. Any return to work must come with full protections for staff and full accountability by the company. These are our 10 questions to Tim Martin”. And there was more.
Tweeters mused “Wetherspoons CEO Tim Martin: ‘There's hardly been any transmission of the virus within pubs and I think it's over the top to shut them’ (20th March) … Photo (20th March) - 177 dead by then … 14 days later 3600 dead” and “Tim Martin has never cared about his staff. Recent events have just brought it to more people’s attention. His customers don’t care, cheap booze will always be the decider over employee rights”.
Worst of all, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has used an early morning LBC interview to spell out to Martin exactly where he stands (apart from on one of those sticky carpets so typical of his pubs): “I think it would be a mistake for different businesses or individuals to go off at a tangent and do their own thing … That just creates confusion for the public. It blunts the effectiveness of any measures we are taking and it endangers all the progress we have made in containing this virus”. So that’s a no, then.
How can Spoons staff maintain social distance from one another, let alone from the punters? How can Martin and his fellow directors tell, without full contact tracing in place, how many of those staff may already be infected? Who’s going to pay for all the extra staff needed to restrict the numbers allowed through the doors? This story is going nowhere.
Hopefully one thing will be different when Spoons does reopen. The company Chairman.
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