J.D Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has demanded a top scientist publish evidence of the link between indoor drinking in pubs and coronavirus cases.
Mr Martin’s comments came after Aberdeen University Bacteriology Professor Hugh Pennington said that the recent Aberdeenshire outbreak was linked to drinking in pubs.
Prof. Pennington told BBC Radio 5 Live that pubs were risky for virus spread as “hot and steamy” environments help Covid-19 “get about”.
Mr Martin, whose company more than 870 pubs in the UK, has now challenged the top bacteria expert to publish his findings so they can be “properly peer reviewed”.
In a statement published in The Morning Advertiser, Mr Martin said that while his pubs had experienced “individual cases” among staff and customers, they had not experienced an outbreak.
“There has been a handful of individual cases of positive tests for the virus in our pubs, but nothing, it appears, which could be described as an outbreak and there appears not to have been, up until now, a case of transmission from person to person among staff or from staff to customers or vice versa”, he said.
“Given the importance of the pub industry to its staff, customers and as a taxpayer to the Exchequer, it would be very useful if Pennington could publish the basis of his assumptions so they could be thoroughly analysed and peer reviewed.”
Mr Martin’s remarks come as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that lockdown measures enforced in Aberdeen will remain in place for at least another week.
There have now been 177 confirmed cases linked to the coronavirus outbreak in the city, with 940 people contact-traced.
At First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said that Aberdeen City Council and Police Scotland were involved in the decision to continue the local lockdown measures.
She thanked people in the city after police reported a high level of compliance with the additional lockdown measures.
She said: “I know people in Aberdeen, who of course are today dealing with severe weather as well as Covid, will be disappointed with this decision but I want to thank them for complying so well with the measures that we put in place last week.”
The First Minister added there is not yet a need to place extra restrictions on Aberdeenshire county as a whole.
“I want to stress that nobody wants these restrictions to be in place for longer than is necessary,” she said.
“They will be reviewed in one week’s time and as soon as we can relax any of them, then we will do.”