Venues’ dismay at ‘unworkable’ tier restrictions
THE North East’s move into Tier Three Covid measures post-lockdown has been labelled “crushing” and “unfair” on pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues.
The entire region will have to endure the harshest level of restrictions for at least two more weeks after December 2. That means pubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and other indoor venues will have to remain closed for a while longer, with a first review of the measures due by December 16.
Dave Stone, one of the men behind Wylam Brewery, the Bridge Tavern, and By The River Brew Co, fears those popular locations and many more pubs will not open their doors again until February – with both Tier Three and Tier Two rules creating major headaches.
He said those drinking spots would be “hunkering down” regardless of whether the North East can escape Tier Three in a couple of weeks, though Wylam Brewery will continue its online click and collect service.
Mr Stone called the restrictions in the top two tiers, which even at their most lenient require pubs to serve alcohol only with ‘substantial’ meals, “unworkable and unfair.”
He added: “I cannot see the difference in transmission between a pub and a supermarket - in fact we believe the hospitality industry took more seriously its responsibility to public health than retail did.
“I just don’t see the sense in it, that is the disappointing thing. The big problem for us is the ridiculous rule you need to have a meal with a beer.
“Nobody can tell me why if you have a pastie and a salad you will not get coronavirus but if you only have a pint you will.”
Fred Plater, owner of the Tyne Bar in Ouseburn, said he was “devastated” by Thursday’s news.
He added: “We will survive here but a lot of places will not. I am wondering whether this might be it for us until the end of January now.”
Robby Scott from city centre restaurant Babucho said many businesses rely on December trade to balance the books and hopes North East restaurants will be given a reprieve so they can reopen later next month.
He added: “There has never been evidence case transmissions are high from hospitality.
“We have continued to follow all the advice and adhere to all the regulations and believe Babucho has always been a safe place to visit.”
The Tyneside Cinema was hoping to open its doors for the first time in months but will have to keep waiting.
Simon Drysdale, the independent cinema’s interim chief executive, said: “We are really sad to hear this news as we were ready to re-open very soon.
“A huge amount of preparatory work has been done and all staff are focused on ensuring everything in the cinema is safe for customers and our team.”
He added: “As Cinema UK has said, there hasnot been a single instance of Covid transmission in a cinema in the UK, yet other, arguably riskier, services are being allowed to re-open in Tier Three.”
Adrian Waddell, chief executive of the city centre’s NE1 Business Improvement District company, said the announcement was “crushing news for our beleaguered hospitality and leisure sectors”.
He added: “The transmission rates for the city and the wider region have shown a steady decline over the past week and if things keep going the way they are we must stand a good chance of moving down the tiers at the next review, due on December 16 and regularly thereafter.
“These reviews should be responsive to local circumstances and what the data shows rather than a Whitehall calendar. Businesses know how to keep their customers safe - we need to get them all trading again as soon as circumstances and the numbers allow.”
The Chronicle’s Save Our Scene campaign aims to highlight the dangers to the region’s famed nightlife businesses, calling for more Government support to get them through the lockdown.