JD Wetherspoon unveils strategy for reopening its 875 pubs after coronavirus lockdown
Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has unveiled its strategy for maintaining staff and customers' safety when its 875 outlets – including The Port Jackson in Bishop's Stortford and The Windmill at Stansted Airport – reopen.
It includes employing at least 1,750 extra staff dedicated to cleanliness and hygiene, creating separate entrances and exits where possible and introducing daily health assessments including temperature checks for all staff.
Initially, controversial chairman Tim Martin refused to close a single one of his pubs after the Government advised people to 'socially distance' and avoid pubs, clubs, restaurants and gyms in the face of the growing Covid-19 pandemic. Eventually, Spoons shut all of its pubs when the Government prohibited their opening as from March 21.
Martin was later reported to have refused to pay his 43,000 employees for the closure period until reimbursed by the Government, unlike other national chains, and encouraged them to find employment elsewhere, such as Tesco. The majority of staff were furloughed. The company also told its suppliers it would not pay them until its pubs were allowed to reopen.
Now, its senior management have devised a plan for reopening – despite a date not yet being set.
Included in this is the promise of employing two or more extra full-time staff in each of its 875 pubs, who will be dedicated to cleaning and sanitising all contact points, such as door handles, card payment machines, hand rails and allergen information screens.
In a statement released on Friday (May 22), 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.”
As well as employing dedicated sanitising staff, screens will be installed at every till and between tables, that cannot be moved, to comply with social distancing rules.
On average, ten hand sanitiser dispensers will be offered at every branch for staff and customer use.
Dedicated employees will monitor the pub at all times in order to maintain social distancing standards and there will be a member of staff on the door at peak times.
The pubs will use one entrance, with a separate exit door where possible, with floor stickers and/or barriers showing the entry and exit route.
While cash will still be accepted, use of the Wetherspoon app or contactless card payments will be encouraged.
Each employee will have temperature checks and complete daily health assessments. Staff will handle all drinks by the base of the glass.
Masks, gloves and protective eyewear will be offered to employees, however it is their choice whether to wear them, subject to Government guidelines.
More by this authorBishop's Stortford Independent reporter