LONDON - Furious critics have today slammed the boss of JD Wetherspoon as he refused to shut down pubs despite warnings they could be putting lives at risk amid the coronavirus crisis.

CEO Tim Martin told BBC Radio 4 today that closing pubs was 'over the top' in spite of warnings from the government's chief scientific adviser that bars are a breeding ground for the deadly virus.

Mr Martin told the BBC that a 'sensible balance' was for pubs to open but to implement 'social distancing' measures, like no standing at the bar, using cards and sitting at separate tables.

He sparked further outrage as he appeared on Sky today, telling viewers supermarkets posed more of a danger than pubs.

He told the show: Supermarkets are very, very crowded. Pubs are much less crowded. There's hardly been any transmission of the virus within pubs and I think it's over the top to shut them.

'That's a commercial view but also a common sense view.'

This comes as both Britain's Chief Medical Officer and the government's chief scientific adviser told young adults they would not 'breeze through' coronavirus and begged them to stay indoors.

Startling new data released on Wednesday night shows 29 percent of the first 2,500 cases of coronavirus in America were people between the ages of 20 and 44.

Of that number, 20 percent were hospitalised and 12 percent put in intensive care units. Some 55 percent of the cases were all under the age of 65.

Social media users have criticised Mr Martin's 'grossly irresponsible' stance 'putting money before health', and urged him to use his platform in the same way as celebrities including Kylie Jenner, who has encouraged youngsters to stay at home.

Meanwhile, foolhardy revellers continue to flock to pubs across the country ignoring calls urging social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease. (FA)