The Chronicle

Venues’ dis­may at ‘un­work­able’ tier re­stric­tions

- By DANIEL HOL­LAND Local democ­racy re­porter daniel.hol­land@ncj­me­

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.

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 ??  ?? New­cas­tle city cen­tre res­tau­rant Babu­cho
New­cas­tle city cen­tre res­tau­rant Babu­cho

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