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Wetherspoons is insisting there's no risk of catching coronavirus at the pub even as 66 of its employees have tested positive.
The chain reluctantly closed its doors back in March when the UK went into lockdown, and reopened as soon as it became legal on July 4.
Since then JD Wetherspoon says approximately 32 million people have visited its 861 operating establishments, the vast majority of which have recorded no positive Covid-19 tests.
Forty of its pubs have reported one worker testing positive while six have reported two staff cases. Two pubs reported three staff cases and another two said four.
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A spokesperson said 28 of the 66 employees have already returned to week after self-isolating for 14 days.
Dismissing Aberdeen University's Professor Hugh Pennington claims that pubs are "dangerous" in a pandemic, Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin maintains the situation has been "widely misunderstood".
"It is clearly not the case that pubs are 'dangerous places to be'," he said in an update to the Stock Exchange on Monday.
"For example, Professor Hugh Pennington, of Aberdeen University, has said, without scientific evidence, that pubs are 'dangerous places to be'.
"This sort of negative view about pubs may have been fuelled by inaccurate press headlines."
He added: "The data we have shows that the infection rate has risen, mainly due to social interactions, particularly private household gatherings.
"In shops and hospitality venues there are strict measures in place to ensure they are Covid-free, whereas it is much easier to inadvertently pass on the virus in someone's house, where people are more relaxed and less vigilant."
Mr Martin added that all Wetherspoons pubs are fitted with hygiene measures including reduced capacity, spacing between tables and hand sanitisers.
"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 – leaving the public to socialise at home or elsewhere, in unsupervised circumstances," he claimed.
"Although it is clearly possible for Covid-19 infections to take place in pubs and shops, the evidence indicates that the risk is low, provided social distancing and hygiene rules are followed, and common sense is used."
In August, retired microbiologist Prof Pennington said Aberdeen was "paying a price" for reopening pubs and bars too early after the Scottish city was hit with an outbreak.
He said the virus was mostly being spread by young people not taking social distancing seriously at drinking establishments, which he feared would "prolong the agony".
A recent study indicates the UK is heading for a second wave of coronavirus, with the number of cases doubling every eight days.
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