Wetherspoon's Tim Martin urges govt to reopen pubs, warns of economic mayhem

Feb 15 (Reuters) - Wetherspoon founder and Chairman Tim Martin on Monday called on the government to open pubs at the same time as non-essential shops reopen, saying the pub industry was on its knees under the latest lockdown and warned of economic mayhem.

Britain’s hospitality sector has been hit hard by the third coronavirus-led lockdown which forced Wetherspoon into a second cash call last month.

“Surely it is possible for the hospitality industry to reopen at the same time as non-essential shops, now that a vaccine exists, on the basis of the social distancing and hygiene regulations, which were agreed with the health authorities, after full consultation, for the July 4 reopening last year,” Martin said.

“Unless the industry does reopen on that basis, economic mayhem will inevitably follow,” he said.

The British Beer & Pub Association also urged the government last week to give a clear timeline and date for when pubs could reopen.

Pubs reopened on July 4 last year after the first lockdown was lifted, followed by a second lockdown later that year.

Martin, an outspoken critic of coronavirus restrictions, last year accused the government of panicking.

Data showed on Sunday that 15 million first doses of COVID-19 vaccinations had been delivered in Britain, fuelling calls for a relaxation of lockdown measures.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out on Feb. 22 the government’s plans to ease the lockdown. (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; editing by David Evans)