Pubs are safe claim Wetherspoons after 66 staff test positive for Covid-19
The pub chain's owner has dismissed claims by experts
There is little risk in going to the pub, the owner of pub chain JD Wetherspoon has insisted, after news emerged that 66 of the chain's staff had tested positive for Covid-19.
The company's owner, Tim Martin, who is not a disease expert, stated on Monday that the danger associated with going to the pub had been "widely misunderstood".
"It is clearly not the case that pubs are ‘dangerous places to be’," he said.
"There have been more positive cases at one farm in Hereford than at all Wetherspoon pubs — and over four times as many at one sandwich-making facility in Northampton.
“The data we have shows that the infection rate has risen, mainly due to social interactions, particularly private household gatherings,” Martin added.
Martin's claims are at odds with the advice of actually medical experts, including Aberdeen University's Professor Hugh Pennington, who last month said that pubs are "far, far more dangerous places to be" during a conversation on reopening schools.
Martin also stated that Wetherspoons had invested £15 million in social distancing measures at the franchise's premises: “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.
“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.”
JD Wetherspoon has confirmed that those who contracted Covid-19, as well as those who worked close to them, were paid in full while they self isolated for 14 days.
In March of this year, Wetherspoons was criticised after initially refusing to pay employee wages until the government's furlough scheme came into practice.
Martin also suggested staff find additional work in supermarkets like Tesco. After a major backlash, the company backtracked.
On Sunday, 3,330 new Covid-19 cases were diagnosed in the UK, the third consecutive day that more than 3,000 new cases had been found.