North East business organisations react to new local COVID-19 restrictions

September 17, 2020 @ 15:10 by Alison Cowie

Local business and economic organisations have reacted to the Government’s announcements that restrictions are to be introduced in parts of the North East of England to curb rising infection rates.

From midnight tomorrow (Friday, September 18), residents in Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham must not socialise with people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens.

Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service, and leisure and entertainment venues will be required to close between 10pm to 5am.

Residents are also advised not to socialise with people outside of their own households in all public venues; to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work;
to not take holidays with people outside of their own household/support bubble; and to avoid attending amateur and semi-professional sporting events as spectators.

Changes come as cases in the region have risen to the second-highest in the country.

​Jonathan Walker, assistant director of policy, North East England Chamber of Commerce (pictured) said: “With the significant rise in numbers of COVID-19 cases we accept further restrictions are necessary to bring the situation under control. We welcome the clear and consistent approach to this across local authority boundaries.

“Businesses want to play their part in tackling this pandemic and the overwhelming majority are doing all they can to keep both their employees and the public safe.

“The fight against Covid-19 might be a long one and ongoing business support from Government, as well as a comprehensive, functioning test and trace system will be needed to ensure that our economic health is protected alongside our public health.”

Sarah Glendinning, CBI North East director, said:  “Businesses in the North East know public health must come first and have been doing all they can to keep staff and customers safe, whether it’s pubs, shops, factories or offices.

“This news will come as a bitter disappointment for many businesses across the North East, but the Government cannot stand by as infection rates rise in the region.

“Taking action now can help to maintain confidence and avoid further restrictions on businesses and households in the months ahead.

“Credit must go to the seven local authorities involved who have worked closely together, recognising the risk to the wider North East and reinforces the need for local and national working.

“With the number of new local restrictions on the rise, the Government will need to take an urgent look at the business support packages for the autumn, including a successor to the furlough scheme.”

Lucy Winskell, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We know that the majority of people have been enjoying the relative freedom since lockdown both carefully and responsibly and with the safety of their loved ones, colleagues and our key workers in mind.

However, where the rules aren’t followed, it significantly increases the opportunity for coronavirus to spread, which is why cases are now rising at an unacceptable rate.

“The latest restrictions are designed to achieve a dual aim: to keep businesses open while enabling people to still work and socialise safely, but if we are unable to nip this in the bud, a full lockdown will result. Let’s all of us do everything we can to avoid this.”

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