Luke Johnson has warned the UK could face a “Great Depression” and would have to decide if the containment measures were worth the “collateral damage” of falling living standards and damage to mental health.

Johnson, the backer of Gail’s and All Star Lanes, urged the government to ramp up testing for coronavirus in a bid to get the country to go back to normal.

The former Pizza Express and Patisserie Valerie chairman told Sky News: “The longer this shutdown continues, the more industry will generally shut down and become insolvent.

“I think there is a terrible trade-off the country will have to make at some point in the very near future about the damage to our whole standard of living and whether we are willing to accept the suicides and all the collateral damage of the shutdown, as opposed to protecting the NHS so it can keep people with the virus alive.”

Johnson added: “I think we could well be facing a downturn that isn’t just an average recession but is closer to something like the Great Depression from the 1930s.

“If you look at the misery and ill health that caused and the damage to society as a whole there is a serious debate to be had to see if we are relentlessly pursuing the right course of action.”

He said several hundred of his staff at Risk Capital Partners were on the government’s furlough scheme, but said it was a concern to make payroll due to delays in receiving the reimbursement.

Topics