StockMarketWire.com - Pub chain JD Wetherspoon said sales over the weekend were 22.5% below the equivalent Saturday last year.

Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin, citing the level of sales over the weekend, hit back against the press for what he claimed were 'negative views' about the risk pubs pose to exacerbating the spread of Covid-19.

Ahead of the weekend, the Daily Mail on 11 September, said "Britons have promised to 'run riot' during the weekend and referred to the situation as being like 'the last days of Rome,' Martin added.

'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 line with the views of Professor Giesecke and Councillor Ward,' the Wetherspoon chairman said.

'As Swedish epidemiologist Johan Giesecke has said (Appendix 1 attached), strong scientific evidence shows that handwashing and social distancing, as practised by most pubs, work,' he added.

The company also reported that it had 32m customer visits in the 10 weeks since 4 July, during which some staff had tested positive for the virus.

Wetherspoon 66 of its 41,564 staff had tested positive during the period.

Most of the reported cases had been mild or asymptomatic and 28 of the 66 employees had already returned to work, after self-isolating in accordance with medical guidelines.