WETHERSPOON has said 50 of its pubs across the UK reported Covid-19 cases since reopening in July.

The chain, which has pubs right across the North-East and North Yorkshire, announced the figures as it said 811 pubs had reported no cases.

It did not disclose which pubs had positive tests, but said 40 had reported one, six pubs reported two, two pubs reported three and two pubs reported four. 

It also confirmed the chain had only reported 66 positive tests out of 41,564 employees across the whole group.

The comments were made as it said trading was "very quiet" over the weekend, before the 'rule of six' restrictions came into force today. 

Tim Martin, founder and chairman of the chain, shrugged off claims that larger groups might rush to the pub before the implementation of the new rules.

Mr Martin said: “Trade was very quiet over the weekend, as the public weighed up the evidence about the alleged dangers of going out.

"Wetherspoon sales were 22.5 per cent below the equivalent Saturday last year.”

Trade groups, including the British Beer & Pub Association, said the new rule will halt the recovery of hospitality firms without extended financial support for the sector.

On Monday, Mr Martin told investors that he believes the safety of pubs during the pandemic has been “widely misunderstood”.

Wetherspoons said about 32m people have visited its pubs since they reopened their doors at the start of July.

The chain said most of the reported cases have been mild or asymptomatic and 28 of the 66 employees have already returned to work, after self-isolating in accordance with medical guidelines.

Wetherspoons said it has invested around £15m in its social distancing and hygiene measures.

Last month, the chain said like-for-like bar and food sales were down 16.9 per cent for the 44 days to August 16, compared with the same period last year.

Mr Martin said the sales slump means it expects to post a loss for the year to July 26.