JD Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin has hit out at the government’s “radical changes of direction”, stating the implications of further restrictions could lead to a loss-making first half for the pub operator.

In an update on the London Stock Exchange since its earlier trading statement on 10 November, Martin said that calls for more restrictions and the implementation of Plan B “will affect our first half results, in particular, which may be loss-making or marginally profitable”.

Many hospitality companies, trade organisations and economists have highlighted the negative implications for pubs and restaurants, he added.

“The uncertainty, and the introduction of radical changes of direction by the government, make predictions for sales and profits hazardous.”

In last month’s update, JDW said that some of its older customers were “understandably cautious”, about visiting hospitality venues such as its pubs, and that improvements in trade would depend on the outlook for the virus.

Martin said: “Repeated warnings and calls for restrictions, mainly from SAGE members and academics, combined with arbitrary changes of direction from the government, invariably at short notice, affect customer sentiment and trade”.

“In effect, the country appears to be heading towards a lockdown by stealth.”