Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has once again hit out at the government handling of the pandemic, and has called for radical change describing the pub situation as “dire”
In a speech at today’s annual general meeting Martin will outline that “2020 has been an extraordinarily difficult year for many businesses.
“As the famous investor Ray Dalio has said, “truth is the essential foundation for good outcomes”. Yet the government has relied on information that has often turned out to be untrue.
“For example, Imperial College research in March, which precipitated a lockdown in over 100 countries, including the first major pub closure in history in the UK, was deeply flawed.
“Indeed, lockdowns, the core of the UK’s current strategy, have been shown by many studies to be ineffective, and often counterproductive.
“David Nabarro, of the World Health Organisation, has recently emphasised their destructive effects, especially for the least well-off.
“In Sweden, a country which didn’t lock down, relying mainly on social distancing and hygiene measures, the mortalities from Covid-19 were 8% of those predicted by the Imperial model.
“Some UK press stories have deprecated Swedish efforts, but the facts are often misrepresented
“In fact, in Sweden, the mortality rate from all causes in 2020 is the same as for four out of the last five years.
“In October, the prediction of Sir Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, of 4000 deaths per day, upon which the government instigated a second lockdown, proved to be wildly inaccurate.
“It seems certain that the biggest flaw in these predictions has been an overestimation of the fatality rate of Covid-19.
“John Ioannidis, often regarded as the foremost expert in the area, has estimated that Covid-19 has half the fatality rate of flu for those under 70 – although this estimate is disputed in some quarters.
“Professors Johan Giesecke, Carl Heneghan, Sunetra Gupta and hundreds of others have also criticised Imperial, SAGE and government policies, as have many health professionals (see the open letter to the Prime Minister, appendix 3).
“The predictions that have turned out to be true in 2020 relate to the effects of lockdowns and government actions on the economy and health.
“Over 800,000 jobs have been lost so far, approximately equivalent to the combined working populations of the cities of Manchester and Birmingham. These job losses are bound to rise sharply in the coming months, without a radical change in government policy.
“Screenings and treatments for many serious illnesses have been drastically reduced, as, for example, the charity Macmillan recently reported (https://www.macmillan.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/we-make-change-happen/we-shape-policy/covid-19-impact-cancer-report.html ).
“The situation for pubs is dire. All pubs in the UK (as at 16 December), apart from a handful in remote areas, are effectively shut.
“Less than half are able to open as restaurants, only serving alcoholic drinks with a meal – but that is not what pubs were designed for, and is not usually profitable.
“Since the government often relies on false information, rather than truth, its outcomes will inevitably be poor.
“The sources of government information, especially SAGE, in which academics predominate, have often been faulty.
“Due to the conscientious efforts of its employees, bankers and shareholders, and to the loyalty of millions of customers, Wetherspoon may be in a better position than some companies and individuals.
“However, 70% of our premises are shut today, despite expenditure of many millions in compliance with health regulations. In addition, over 50 million pub visits have been registered, using the track and trace system, and there have been no outbreaks of the virus reported to the company.”