Ever since the lockdown back in March JD Weatherspoon has been at the centre of news surrounding the hospitality industry as Chairman Tim Martin loves to be controversial and swim against the tide.
At the onset of Covid-19 and the lockdown being imposed Martin told 43,000 staff at Wetherspoons they were not being paid wages until the company was first reimbursed for their wages by the government. The following day Weatherspoon served notice to their suppliers, that invoices were not being paid indefinitely.
Since the reopening of pubs in July headlines across national media have been reporting on concerns about JD Weatherspoon pubs – ‘Fears overcrowding in Wetherspoon pubs may lead to Covid spike’. There are many more similar reports from all over the UK, just search for Weatherspoon Covid-19 for examples.
Today, media headlines are once again featuring JD Weatherspoon as 66 people working with JD Weatherspoon have tested positive for Covid-19. That is 0.15% of their workforce. The most recent date from The Office of national Statistics shows: An estimated 39,700 people in the community had COVID-19 between 30 August and 5 September 2020 (0.07% of the community population). So, if you work with JD Weatherspoon you are more than twice as likely to test positive for Covid-19.
In August speaking about a JD Weatherspoon pub in South London, Helen Hayes, the Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, told The Guardian: “When so many pubs and restaurants are welcoming customers back with very strict protocols to keep everyone safe and prevent the further spread of coronavirus, it is really concerning to hear reports of some pubs which are allowing overcrowding and not insisting on customer contact details for track and trace.”
Mr Martin in one of his most recent reposts to media told The BBC: “If pubs are closed, or restricted so much that they become unprofitable, a great deal of the strenuous effort of the hospitality industry’s 3.2 million employees, currently engaged on upholding hygiene and social distancing standards, will be lost.” He is right of course, but we far prefer the tone of Helen Hayes observations, which seem more balanced and less emotive.
Building confidence with consumers that hospitality can be enjoyed safely is a strategy that will need a balanced and non-emotive message. And it will need to be delivered through actions.
Countless hospitality businesses have re-opened with every measure of safe hospitality applied, these are the ‘names’ deserving of headlines.