Coronavirus: Wetherspoons cuts 450 jobs as hospitality industry criticises curfew rule

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JD Wetherspoon PLC (LON:JDW) said it is planning to cut between 400 and 450 jobs at its airport pubs.

It will affect venues at Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, the publican said in a letter to staff seen by PA.

READ: Coronavirus: Pubs and restaurants stocks rebound with new restrictions better than feared

The news comes hours before Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce further rules to limit the spread of COVID-19, including a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.

Venues will also be required to offer table service exclusively.

Industry representatives have criticised the new measures, indicating that government data suggests just 5% of infections are related to hospitality.

“These restrictions will come as another crushing blow for many hospitality businesses struggling to recover so it’s crucial these new rules are applied with flexibility,” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, told the BBC.

“A hard close time is bad for business and bad for controlling the virus – we need to allow time for people to disperse over a longer period.”

Nicholls also called for further governmental support, such as an extension of the VAT cut and business rates holiday as well as an employment support programme specifically for hospitality.

However, data on outbreaks can be misleading as there aren’t enough resources to conduct thorough research, Professor Philip Nolan of Maynooth University noted on Twitter.

“If I went out 5 days ago and caught the virus in a restaurant, it will have multiplied silently inside me for 3 days… Public health only ask me about my contacts for the 48 hours before I developed symptoms. They don’t need to know where I got the virus; that happened 5 days ago. They want to know where the virus is going, who I might have infected, and prevent onward transmission,” he said.

“My contacts are tested, and unfortunately two of my family are infected. It’s now a household outbreak, and I am a case of community transmission. Even though I got it in a restaurant and brought it home.”

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