JD Wetherspoon has today confirmed that 66 of its staff members have tested positive for coronavirus since it reopened its doors in July.
Around 32 million people have visited its pubs since they reopened from lockdown, with all but 11 of its outlets now fully open.
During the 10 weeks since July there have been 66 positive tests among its employees, with 40 pubs reporting at least one case of the virus.
The pub chain said most of the reported cases have been mild or asymptomatic and 28 of the 66 employees have already returned to work, after self-isolating in accordance with medical guidelines.
There have been concerns that any overcrowding in pubs could make social distancing difficult.
Tim Martin said trade was “very quiet over the weekend, as the public weighed up the evidence about the alleged dangers of going out – Wetherspoon sales were 22.5 per cent below the equivalent Saturday last year”.
Martin pointed out the firm has invested around £15 million on social distancing and hygiene measures, such as spacing out tables, the installation of screens between tables and around tills, and an average of ten hand sanitisers per pub.
Martin cautioned: “If pubs are closed, or restricted so much that they become unprofitable, a great deal of the strenuous effort of the hospitality industry’s 3.2 million employees, currently engaged on upholding hygiene and social distancing standards, will be lost – leaving the public to socialise at home or elsewhere, in unsupervised circumstances.”