Pub operator JD Wetherspoon has some unsolicited advice for the U.K. government: If bars and restaurants had stayed open during the early months of the pandemic, maybe Prime Minister Boris Johnson wouldn’t be in such hot water now.
Instead of partying at 10 Downing Street in May 2020, government employees could have gone to a pub, where Covid controls would have been tighter and trained staff “would have easily dealt with the ‘high jinks’ alleged to have occurred at No. 10,” the company said in its latest trading update Wednesday.
Johnson has apologized for breeching lockdown rules and attending a drinks party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020, but his job is at risk. Wetherspoon didn’t cite the prime minister by name, but portrayed the scandal as a ramification of the stringent pandemic curbs that included pub closures.
“Public anger regarding ‘partygate relates mainly to hypocrisy,” it said. “The public was prevented from seeing friends and family, while the same rules were not observed at 10 Downing Street.”
Epidemiologists have pointed to nightlife as a leading cause of Covid-19 transmission, which has led to closures and curfews throughout the pandemic.
The pub operator reported a drop of almost 16% in comparable sales for the 12 weeks to Jan. 16 amid Covid restrictions and warned it will likely report a loss in its fiscal first half. It also lashed out at fund manager BlackRock Inc. for voting against its non-executive directors at the annual meeting without having signaled its intention or contacted the company.
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