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Wetherspoon boss wants investigation into how virus spreads as Aberdeen lockdown extended

Aberdeen went into lockdown a week ago after a sharp rise cases of coronavirus that was blamed on pubs in the city

JD Wetherspoon -
Tim Martin

JD Wetherspoon PLC (LON:JDW) boss Tim Martin has called for more evidence to be produced to link recent spikes in coronavirus infections with the reopening of pubs.

Responding to a radio interview by Professor Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology at Aberdeen University, Martin said up until now the evidence surrounding pubs in the UK has been based on supposition. 

Aberdeen went into lockdown a week ago after a sharp rise cases of coronavirus that was blamed on people flaunting social distancing rules in pubs in the city.

Today it was announced that the lockdown in the city would continue due to the rise in cases with pubs and restaurants to remain closed and restrictions on travel and visiting.

In a statement, the Wetherspoons’ boss said Professor Pennington had said in the interview on  6 August that there had "been an outbreak associated with pubs" and for "90% of cases, that was how they caught it".

Martin said: “Given the importance of the pub industry to its staff, customers and as a taxpayer to the Exchequer, it would be very useful if Professor Pennington could publish the basis of his assumptions, so that they could be thoroughly analysed and peer-reviewed.”

Martin added: "By lockdown on 20 March only five of our 43,000 staff had tested positive, even though they were working in the busiest pubs in the UK, at the tail end of the winter, when the virus was rampant in the country.

“Since pubs have re-opened and the level of testing has dramatically increased, there has been a handful of individual cases of positive tests for the virus in our pubs but nothing, it appears, which could be described as an outbreak and there appears not to have been, up until now, a case of transmission from person to person among staff or from staff to customers- or vice versa.

“The situation presents an excellent opportunity for a proper scientific investigation into an extremely important industry,” he added.

Shares in the pub group eased 1% to 1,003p.

Quick facts: JD Wetherspoon

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Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.04 billion

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