South Tyneside businesses fear they may go to the wall following Tier 3 confirmation
A number of South Tyneside businesses have reacted with disappointment to the announcement that the borough will enter Tier 3 upon exiting the month-long national lockdown, with some high street firms fearing they may have to close permanently going into 2021.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that South Tyneside will be met with the toughest local restrictions when the lockdown is lifted on December 2.
Under Tier 3, bars and other hospitality venues will be unable to reopen their doors to the public – while shops will be allowed to readmit customers with new in-store restrictions.
Kaz Chowdhury, who owns the Radhuni restaurant on Ocean Road and the newly-opened Outlet clothes shop on King Street, fears he now may have to close the latter business if custom does not pick up dramatically in December.
He said: “Obviously, we’ll be able to continue running a takeaway service with the restaurant.
"But, really, with the restrictions in the North East, if the number of customers remains as low in December as it was before, I’ll have to think about whether I’m going to continue with the shop business. There’s a good chance I won’t be able to.”The landlord of Ziggy’s Bar, also in South Shields, believes the disorientating series of lockdowns may also force businesses like his town centre venue to call last orders for good.
Stephen Sullivan said: “By the time the Government reviews the tiering system for South Tyneside, it will be too close to Christmas for us to order in stock, making it practically impossible to open at that point even if we do move down to Tier 2.
"It’s all fine and well saying ‘We’re reviewing this on a regular basis’, but it’s really not much good to us if we can’t trade.
"I 100 per cent won’t be operating until 2021. With the support of the public, I hope we will get through this. But we have no reserves left now at this point.”
Meanwhile, Carl Mowatt, manager at the Lakeside Inn, struck a more optimistic note – despite also registering disappointment at yesterday’s announcement.
"Obviously we’d been hoping for Tier 2 rather than Tier 3, but this is where we are now,” he said.
”But all you can do is stay positive and push on. We’re all in the same boat pretty much in this part of the country, so in that sense we’re no better or worse off than anyone else around us.”
Through its #supportlocal campaign, The Gazette has drawn attention to the plight of a number of high street firms across the borough struggling amid the pressures of Covid-19.
Adam Dadswell, who has been working at his wife’s shop, Marion’s Florist, during the pandemic, said: "Although there has been a bit more clarity this time about what we can and can’t do, there’s still a degree of uncertainty around, for instance, whether we can have people in the shop or not.
"Before we had to set up a collection service at the front of the shop and we might have to do the same this time.”