THE founder of Wetherspoon has defended the safety of bars during the pandemic, saying there's been more cases at one Herefordshire farm than at all of his pubs.

Tim Martin said about 32 million people have visited its pubs since they reopened their doors at the start of the July.

He told investors that he believes the safety of pubs during the pandemic has been “widely misunderstood”.

The company said it has reported 66 positive tests for Covid-19 among its 41,564 employees since reopening, less than the number of cases at the vegetable farm near Ledbury where there was an outbreak.

A total of 142 people who worked or had links to vegetable grower AS Green & Co in Mathon tested positive for coronavirus, more than double the cases reported among staff at Wetherspoon pubs across the UK.

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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.

"It is clearly not the case that pubs are ‘dangerous places to be’.

"There have been more positive cases at one farm in Hereford than at all Wetherspoon pubs – and over four times as many at one sandwich-making facility in Northampton.”

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Mr Martin said 811 pubs have reported zero positive tests, 40 pubs have reported one, six pubs have reported two, two pubs reported three and two pubs reported four.

The firm 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.

Wetherspoons said it has invested around £15 million in its social distancing and hygiene measures.


Last month, the group said like-for-like bar and food sales were down 16.9% for the 44 days to August 16, compared with the same period last year.

Mr Martin said the sales slump means it expects to post a loss for the year to July 26.