All Wetherspoons will remain open even as Brits are advised not to go to pubs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The popular chain has announced it won't be closing its doors, but it's introducing a draconian set of new hygiene rules.

Customers will now have to pay by card, avoid standing at the bar and sit at alternate tables, the company announced on Wednesday.

Chairman Tim Martin says the government would be making a tactical error if it implemented a "de facto lockdown" of pubs because of the virus.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Brits to avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and restaurants, the government has not yet closed such premises down.

Live updates on COVID-19 cases near you

England: 1,950

  • London: 621
  • South East: 241
  • Midlands: 140
  • North East and Yorkshire: 74
  • North West: 157
  • East of England: 93
  • South West: 241

Scotland: 195

Wales: 136

Martin has praised the government's previous plan of allowing most people to get the virus therefore building up the population's "herd immunity". That plan has since been scrapped following revelations it would likely lead to 250,000 UK deaths.

"The difference in keeping the hospitality industry open, even with reduced sales, is colossal," Martin said.

"The industry contributes £120 billion a year of tax and six million jobs. Wetherspoon alone contributes £2 million a day of tax.

"Lockdown delays the inevitable and destroys the tax base at the same time, which will cripple the NHS and the economy.

"The prime minister should show Dutch courage and follow the example of their PM, Mark Rutte – and avoid taking French leave of his senses by following the lockdown example of perfidious Emmanuel Macron.

"The Dutch approach has the additional advantage of being in tune with the robust instincts of the nation. This is evidenced by Wetherspoon sales, which have been positive in the last few weeks in spite of storms and health scares."

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  • Wetherspoons
  • Pubs
  • Coronavirus

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