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Wetherspoons tells drinkers to keep ordering on apps - not at the bar

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Wetherspoon - Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Wetherspoon - Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Wetherspoons is urging drinkers to keep using apps rather than order at the bar when lockdown rules ease in parts of the UK on Monday.

The pub group laid out its plans for dealing with the lifting of almost all restrictions in England on "freedom day", saying it had decided against stripping out all measures to prevent the spread of Covid in its pubs from that date.

JD Wetherspoon, which runs more than 870 pubs across the UK, said: "Since uncertainty remains as to the future impact of Covid-19, Wetherspoon has decided to revert to the successful measures which were agreed between local authorities, health authorities, licensing authorities and other parties, when pubs reopened in England, after the first lockdown, in July 2020."

Wetherspoons said it would still encourage customers to order and pay through its apps, rather than at the bar, to reduce contact. However, it did say customers "will be able to order at the bar" if they so desire.

It will also retain floor screens between tables and keeping in place the limits on how many people it could have inside pubs at any one time.

People will, however, be able to meet in groups larger than six, and Wetherspoon said face masks would be optional.

It said these guidelines were a "sensible backstop for the industry and strike a fair balance between health, employment and the economy".

The Wetherspoon chairman, Tim Martin, said: “It is hoped that arbitrary and capricious government rules, which have been a regular feature in recent months, such as the requirement for substantial meals, curfews and table service, which have no scientific provenance, can be avoided in future.

"These sorts of rules damage the economy, are extraordinarily difficult for pub staff to implement and are invariably regarded by customers as absurd.”

The update comes as hospitality companies across England attempt to get to grips with the government guidelines from Monday. Some operators, such as City Pub Group, have said they will still encourage people to wear masks inside.

Guidance released by the Government earlier this week suggested that restaurants, pubs and bars should "consider the use of the NHS Covid pass to reduce the risk of transmission at your venue or event", which would require people to have either two vaccinations or a negative Covid-19 test to enter.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry body UKHospitality, called for further guidance on when this would apply: "I don't think anybody would be able to introduce this on a voluntary basis from Monday until we have clarification."

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