16 Oct 2020
Wetherspoon has announced a pre-tax loss of over £105m as founder Tim Martin attacks the government’s "ever-changing raft of ill-thought-out" coronavirus rules.
The company’s delayed results also showed that sales fell by 30% from £1.82bn to £1.26bn in the year to 26 July, Sky News reports.
Mr Martin told the BBC’s Today programme: “Under emergency powers the government is making a lot of changes, which we think in the industry are arbitrary, don’t work, like the curfew, and that’s making life almost impossible.”
Talking about the delayed results published on Friday, Mr Martin said: "For the two months following reopening, it appeared that the hospitality industry, in difficult circumstances, was adapting to the new regime and was getting 'back on its feet', albeit in survival mode."
However, he went on to add: "It appears that the government and its advisers were clearly uncomfortable as the country emerged from lockdown.
"They have introduced, without consultation, under emergency powers, an ever-changing raft of ill-thought-out regulations - these are extraordinarily difficult for the public and publicans to understand and to implement.
"None of the new regulations appears to have any obvious basis in science.
"For example, a requirement for table service was introduced - which is expensive to implement and undermines the essential nature of pubs for many people - pubs have now become like restaurants. Customers can approach the till in a shop, but not in a pub - which is, in no sense, 'scientific',” he said.
The pub chain founder also stated that the "most damaging regulation" was the 10pm curfew: "This has meant that many thousands of hospitality industry employees, striving to maintain hygiene and social-distancing standards, go off duty at 10pm, leaving people to socialise in homes and at private events which are, in reality, impossible to regulate.”
Criticising the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis the Wetherspoon founder added that Britain should adopt Sweden’s approach to permit his pubs to reopen properly.
"In marked contrast to the consistency of the comparatively successful Swedish approach, which emphasises social distancing, hygiene and trust in the people, the erratic UK government is jumping from pillar to post and is both tightening and tinkering with regulations, so we are now in quasi-lockdown which is producing visibly worse outcomes than those in Sweden, in respect of both health and the economy."