Coronavirus: JD Wetherspoon confirms pubs will reopen on 4 July

·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3 min read
File photo dated 15/07/2015 of a JD Wetherspoon pub, as the chain will spend an initial �11 million making its 875 pubs Covid-19 secure ahead of reopening, including screens at bars and tables.
All JD Wetherspoon pubs will reopen on 4 July. Photo: PA

JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) has confirmed it will reopen all its pubs on 4 July, in line with government guidance.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that pubs and other hospitality businesses could reopen from next month provided they follow new COVID-19 health and safety measures. These include making sure all customers are at least one metre apart and taking risk mitigation measures such as erecting screens between customers and limiting contact between servers and visitors.

Read more: Boris Johnson confirms pubs and restaurants to reopen from 4 July

JD Wetherspoon said on Wednesday it had consulted with staff to draw up the ‘Wetherspoon COVID-19 Secure Operating Plan’, based on 3,000 submissions from employees. Changes include temperatures taken at the door, plexiglass screens at the tills, and at least 10 hand sanitiser points in each pub.

JD Wetherspoon operates over 800 pubs across the UK and has spent around £11m ($13.7m) making them “COVID secure”, according to the Daily Mirror.

Conservative leadership contender Boris Johnson (L) pulls a pint of Windsor & Eton brewery's "Knight of the Garter" beer as he talks with JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin during his visit to their Metropolitan Bar in London, on July 10, 2019. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime minister Boris Johnson (L) and JD Wetherspoon boss Time Martin (R). Johnson announced pubs could reopen next month. Photo: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images

A survey of Wetherspoon’s staff found 98% of respondents intend to return to work when pubs reopen, although just over 4,000 cant’ return immediately, due to things like maternity leave, caring responsibilities, or health issues — 388 of its near 45,000 staff said they intend to quit.

Read more: JD Wetherspoon boss told to 'step up' by Business Select Committee boss

JD Wetherspoon said 79 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. All but 5 have fully recovered.

A further 834 staff members suspect they have contracted COVID-19 but have not had it confirmed through a test — 54 are still unwell.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/05/23: An interior view of a currently closed Wetherspoons pub during the coronavirus crisis. The JD Wetherspoon pub chain unveiled a blueprint to re-open 875 of their pubs. The company will invest £11 million to ensure safety from Covid-19 pandemic with social distancing measures, hand sanitiser dispensers placed around the pub and perspex screens between tables. Staff will wear masks and protective eyewear and will have daily health checks. This is all subject to the Government giving the go ahead for Pubs and restaurants to re-open - possible in the early July. (Photo by Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Wetherspoons pubs will reopen with new COVID-19 health and safety measures. Photo: Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

JD Wetherspoon said two staff members died at the end of April after testing positive for COVID-19.

“Our condolences go to their families, friends and colleagues,” the company said in a statement.

Read more: Wetherspoon boss denies 'putting profits before people' on coronavirus

Alongside the update on reopening, JD Wetherspoon said it had raised £48.3m through the government-backed coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS). The pub group raised £141m selling new shares to investors in April.

The pub group said annual results would also be delayed until October as a result of the crisis.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 23, 2020 - Coronavirus: JD Wetherspoon pubs could begin reopening from the 4th July with safety measures in place,- PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
JD Wetherspoon pubs will begin reopening from the 4 July with safety measures in place. Photo: Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

JD Wetherspoon was criticised for its early handling of the novel coronavirus crisis.

Boss Tim Martin initially urged the public to continue visiting JD Wetherspoons in March, despite guidance from the government to avoid pubs.

Read more: JD Wetherspoon boss tells staff to consider work at Tesco

When lockdown was ordered, Martin then told staff they would face delays being paid and urged them to seek work at supermarkets like Tesco instead. Wetherspoon eventually backtracked and agreed to pay staff. However, it faced similar scrutiny of its decision to ask suppliers to wait for payment on stock already delivered.

Rachel Reeves MP, then chair of the business select committee, said she had “deep concerns” about Martin’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis in March.