Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin has described the government’s de facto lockdown as a “tactical error”, and called for it to adopt the Dutch position.

Martin said the Dutch policy of accepting many will get the virus and building up group immunity, while protecting the elderly and sick, was the “best path for the UK”.

The pub boss cited some scientific opinion which argues lockdown for 12 weeks would result in a further breakout of infections in July.

He said: “The difference in keeping the hospitality industry open, even with reduced sales, is colossal. The industry contributes £120bn a year of tax and six million jobs. Wetherspoon alone contributes £2m a DAY of tax.

“Lockdown delays the inevitable and destroys the tax base at the same time, which will cripple the NHS and the economy.”

Martin, an outspoken critic of Europe, suggested the French had “taken leave their senses” by issuing a lockdown.

He added: “The Dutch approach has the additional advantage of being in tune with the robust instincts of the nation. This is evidenced by Wetherspoon sales which have been positive in the last few weeks in spite of storms and health scares.”