Coronavirus: Wetherspoons to reopen pubs with screens and staff in goggles

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Wetherspoon pub in Cambridge city centre during the lockdown. (Doug Peters/EMPICS)

JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) has unveiled an £11m ($13.4m) plan for how it will reopen its pubs amid the coronavirus pandemic, including providing goggles and daily health checks for staff.

The popular pub operator said it will open the doors of its 875 pubs in the UK and Ireland “when it has the official go-ahead” from government.

Plans to reduce the risks from COVID-19 for staff and customers include separating tables to allow social distancing, and installing screens between them where gaps are not possible.

Ordering will be expected through the company’s app or contactless payments, though cash will still be accepted.

READ MORE: How takeaway pints and virtual quizzes are reshaping British pubs

Staff will be given gloves, masks and “protective eyewear,” but will not have to wear them. All employees will have to take a daily health assessment questionnaire and have their temperature taken.

“Staff will hand over all drinks holding the base of the glass and when ordered by the app they will be delivered to the table on a tray and placed on the table using the base of the glass,” said a statement on its website.

Around 10 hand sanitisers will be installed in the average pub including at the entrance.

Meanwhile every pub will also have at least two full-time cleaners focused on regularly cleaning “surfaces and touch points throughout.”

The government has said pubs are only likely to be able to open from July at the earliest. But talks are reported to be underway between industry chiefs and the government about opening beer gardens sooner, according to PA.

READ MORE: Wetherspoon backtracks and agrees to pay furloughed staff

Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: “At present the government have not confirmed any reopening date for pubs.

 “However, it is important that we are prepared for any announcement.

“We have spent a number of weeks consulting with staff who work in our pubs, as well as area managers in order to draw up our plans.

“We have received more than 2,500 suggestions from our staff. The safety of our staff and customers is paramount.”