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Wetherspoon's Tim Martin calls for scientific evidence not 'assumptions' of virus transmission in pubs

12 August 2020 by
Wetherspoon's Tim Martin calls for scientific evidence not 'assumptions' of virus transmission in pubs

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has called for more transparency on data surrounding the transmission of Covid-19 after a University of Aberdeen professor spoke of outbreaks "associated with pubs".

Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, told Radio 5 Live on 6 August that there had "been an outbreak associated with pubs" and for "90% of cases, that was how they caught it".

Martin responded by saying that government policy was "implicitly based on the assumption that there is a high level of Covid-19 transmission in pubs.

"This approach by governments is obvious since pubs have been among the last to open, after the various lockdowns finished."

Last week, Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon ordered pubs and restaurants in Aberdeen to close following a spike in coronavirus cases in the city, which has today been extended.

However by 20 March when the UK-wide lockdown came into force, Martin said only five of its 43,000 staff had tested positive for coronavirus, "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".

The chairman of the pub giant, which recently announced more than 100 potential redundancies at its head office, remarked that since pubs across England reopened on 4 July, the level of testing had "dramatically increased" yet resulted in just "a handful of individual cases of positive tests for the virus in our pubs".

He concluded by adding: "The situation presents an excellent opportunity for a proper scientific investigation into an extremely important industry."

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