JD Wetherspoon to reopen pub gardens from 12 April

Saleha Riaz
·3 min read
Customers will be able to enter the pub to gain access to the outside area and also to use the toilet, the business said, and 'test and trace' will be in operation. Photo: JD Wetherspoon
Customers will be able to enter the pub to gain access to the outside area and also to use the toilet, the business said, and 'test and trace' will be in operation. Photo: JD Wetherspoon

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) said on Thursday it is set to open its outdoor spaces, including beer gardens, rooftop gardens and patios, at 394 of its pubs in England from 12 April.

JD Wetherspoon operates some 872 pubs in the UK and Ireland in 2020.

The news comes after UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced last week that retailers and outdoor hospitality venues may reopen from 12 April in England, as he set out his long-awaited "roadmap" out of lockdown.

The pubs will be open from 9am to 9pm (Sunday to Thursday) and 9am to 10pm (Friday and Saturday), although some have restrictions on closing times and in those cases will close earlier.

They will offer a slightly reduced menu and food will be available from 9am to 8pm seven days a week.

Customers will be able to order and pay through the Wetherspoon app, but staff will be able to take orders and payment at the table from those who don’t have the app.

Customers will be able to enter the pub to gain access to the outside area and also to use the toilet, the business said, and 'test and trace' will be in operation. The NHS Test and Trace programme aims to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Wetherspoon chief executive John Hutson said: “We are looking forward to welcoming our customers and staff back to our pubs.”

Last week, Johnson set out a four-step plan to begin "cautiously but irreversibly" easing restrictions as the UK vaccine rollout gathers pace.

WATCH: Wetherspoon boss calls for pubs to reopen

According to step two of this plan, 12 April at the earliest will see the re-opening of 'non-essential' retail, from markets to clothes and homeware stores, and outdoor operations for hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars.

Earlier, Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin asked the government to reopen pubs at the same time as non-essential shops.

In a statement, the pub tycoon had said that the industry is "on its knees" and that reopening would save jobs.

Alongside the plea, Martin also told Sky News that he intended to bring back the 37,000 staff that are currently on furlough as soon as the chain gets the go-ahead to reopen.

READ MORE: Amazon opens first no-checkout store outside US in London

He had said that the pub industry makes a massive contribution to the economy, and Wetherspoon alone pays about £10 ($13.90) of tax for every pound of profit it makes.

Industry groups UK Hospitality and the British Beer and Pub Association have also joined these calls, showing evidence that they say shows pubs and restaurants are COVID-secure environments.

“Surely it is possible for the hospitality industry to reopen at the same time as non-essential shops, now that a vaccine exists, on the basis of the social distancing and hygiene regulations, which were agreed with the health authorities, after full consultation, for the July 4 reopening last year," said Martin at the time.

“Unless the industry does reopen on that basis, economic mayhem will inevitably follow," he had warned.

Earlier this week the government said it will create a £150m pot that will allow communities to take over not just their local pubs but also sports clubs and theatres that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

The UK hospitality industry and non-essential retail have been shuttered for months at a time, while the country gets caseloads of COVID-19 under control.

In November it was reported that almost three quarters of UK pubs and restaurants expect to shut permanently this year.

WATCH: What is the Bounce Back Loan scheme?