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Pubs casll time on millennium eve

ANYONE FANCYING a pint, a knees-up, and a few verses of "Auld Lang Syne" for the Millennium at their local, better think again if it is a J D Wetherspoon - they are shutting early.

The sober owners of the Wetherspoon chain said all of its 311 pubs would close at 8.30pm on New Year's Eve.

The firm, known for its no-nonsense blend of beer promotions, all-day food and bans on music, TV, quiz nights and karaoke, said the decision was moved by concern for its staff; it wanted to give them the night off to see in the new year.

Chairman Tim Martin said yesterday: "Our pubs don't have music, and late on New Year's Eve we won't lose as much as other pubs would.

"Combined with the benefits to us in terms of staff morale, it makes it worth our while."

Earlier this week, Allied Domecq, one of Britain's biggest pub groups, said it was aiming to open as many of its 2,000 outlets for as long as possible on New Year's Eve.

Those employees involved in roped in to working the through the New Year celebrations can look forward to handsome bonuses particularly those in hotels, catering, restaurants and other leisure sectors. Most wages are set to increase sixfold and employers are bracing themselves for workers who will simply not turn up.

Many London restaurants, such as The Ivy and Le Caprice, have announced they will not be opening, to allow staff a night off to celebrate.