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JD Wetherspoon has announced plans to open 18 new pubs and create 2,000 jobs but warned it would call off the investment if new Covid restrictions are introduced.
The pub chain said it would also “significantly extend” 57 of its existing pubs with work to begin within weeks of re-opening after lockdown rules are eased.
The £145m plans were announced a day after Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin warned that vaccine passports would be the “last straw” for struggling pubs and would force bar staff into a “bitter civil liberties war” with customers.
The first new pubs and extensions will be in towns and cities including Leeds, Birmingham, Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire, Sheffield, Felixstowe in Suffolk, Heswall on the Wirral, Dublin, Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen and Glasgow.
Wetherspoon also said it expects to invest a further £750m to open 15 new pubs and enlarging 50 existing pubs each year for 10 years, creating 20,000 new jobs.
Announcing the investment plans, Mr Martin said: “Our immediate investment will provide work for architects, contractors and builders as well as result in 2,000 new jobs for staff in our pubs.
“We are geared up to start on the first projects within a few months.
“We are also committed to our long-term investment and job creation programme over the next decade.
“However, the investment is conditional on the UK opening back up again on a long-term basis, with no further lockdowns or the constant changing of rules.”
Mr Martin has been a vocal critic of public health measures brought in to limit the spread of coronavirus.
In January, Wetherspoon removed lockdown-sceptical posters from its venues as coronavirus case numbers grew rapidly in parts of England.
The company had made pages from its company magazine, Wetherspoon News, available to download and put in pub windows.
It was part of a campaign by Mr Martin against government restrictions, which he said were “messing up the economy and also the health of the nation”.
One of the flyers reproduced a news story from 20 November last year, which cast doubt on the dire warnings of government scientists about the threat posed by the second Covid-19 wave.