UK lockdown: Wetherspoons across Essex announce reopening following several coronavirus lockdowns

Harlow Wetherspoons

FROM April 12 2021, pub chain Wetherspoons will reopen seven branches in Essex, with new rules to account for the gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions. These include garden seating only for now.

The Wetherspoons confirmed to be opening in April are: The Temeraire (Saffron Walden), The Bottle Kiln (Harwich), The Elms (Leigh), The William Aylmer (Harlow), The Battesford Court (Witham), The Parsons Barn (Shoebury) and The Blue Boar (Billericay).

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

Although, customers should be aware that the chain has massively reduced the additional toppings and fillings offered as a result of allowing staff and customers to socially distance more.

Wetherspoons will be open from 9am to 9pm (Sunday to Thursday) and 9am to 10pm (Friday and Saturday) in most cases.

Wetherspoons first opened it’s doors to the public in 1979. The pub chain now run over 950 pubs, spread across the UK.

On March 23 2020, Boris Johnson announced the first coronavirus lockdown, ordering the UK public to “stay at home”.

As these restrictions were put in place, and Boris Johnson advised drinkers to stay at home, Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin told Sky News: “This is over the top. Pubs should stay open for the duration.” However, instead the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, revealed that “furlough” would meet 80% of the wage costs of workers, or temporarily sent home, by firms hit by the crisis.

On June 15 2020, non essential shops were allowed to reopen in the UK, however pubs and hairdressers remained closed.

On July 4 2020, more restrictions were eased allowing pubs, hairdressers and restaurants to reopen for business. Boris Johnson posed the ‘two meter’ rule, to minimise the transmission of coronavirus and enforced restricted staff and customer interaction, with table only service.

From August 3 2020, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was introduced, allowing for 50% discount on meals in the UK, up to £10 per person. Prices were reduced at Wetherspoon’s pubs in the UK on a range of meals and drinks, every Monday to Wednesday, until Wednesday 11 November 2020.

Tim Martin told Sky: “The government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme was extremely popular with customers and a great boost to the hospitality industry.”

On September 22 2020, the hospitality sector had to operate on restricted serving times, with the 10pm curfew announced and rolled out by the Prime Minister.

On October 14 2020, the three tier system was announced in the UK, with tier one being medium alert, tier two being high alert and tier three being very high alert. Wetherspoons sales in October were significantly lower than the previous months, following the imposition of a number of new restrictions, including changes in the tier categories alongside the combination of the 10pm curfew.

Then in October 31 2020, Boris Johnson announced that a second lockdown would be introduced to prevent “a medical and moral disaster” for the NHS.

December 2 2020, the second lockdown ends after a month, with the UK gearing up the previous three tier system with stricter rules. Although, the previous 10pm curfew had altered resulting in opening hours to be extended until 11pm.

December 15 2020, Boris Johnson confirms Christmas rules will go ahead (three house holds can meet during 23 to 27 December, the 5 day Christmas period).

December 21 2020, the new tougher restriction, tier four came into force, with London and South East England being placed into the “stay at home” alert level. This resulted in non essential shops being shut once again.

On January 6 2021, England announced it’s third national lockdown.

Then on February 22 2021, the Prime Minister created the “roadmap for lifting the lockdown”, alongside expected dates for gradual lockdown restrictions, with April 12 allowing outdoor seating such as beer gardens to open up to the public.


Photo: The William Aylmer Wetherspoons in Harlow

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Skye Stewart

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