WETHERSPOON is starting to plan for a reopening of its pubs and hotels "in or around June'', the company has announced, despite there being no current government plans to ease lockdown restrictions.

The chain's boss, Tim Martin, has been highly critical of the lockdown measures, describing the restrictions as "over the top" and suggesting last month, without evidence, that "there’s hardly been any transmission of the virus within pubs".

The plans are likely to be resisted by the government, which has so far refused to unveil plans to ease the lockdown until ministers know the "real risk" of a second peak of infections can be avoided.

Pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK have been closed since 20 March, and the government has confirmed that areas of hospitality will be among the last to exit the lockdown.

Following the closures, Mr Martin announced that staff would only be paid until the moment the pubs were shut, advising them to look for work at Tesco if they needed work in the meantime. He later backtracked after public outcry.