Eateries say the latest lockdown measures in Teesdale have been "devastating"
CAFE and bar owners in Teesdale say they are already counting the cost of new local lockdown measures banning anyone from different households meeting up at their venues.
It’s in contrast to two months ago when people enthusiastically ate out to help out in cafes, bars and restaurants as part of a Government scheme to aid struggling businesses get back on their feet. Now customers are staying away.
Clare Dixon, who owns and runs Clarendon’s in Barnard Castle, The Coach House and The Three Tuns in Eggleston, said: “The restrictions have had a devastating impact right across the board for all three businesses.
“A lot of people meet up and have a coffee or come out and have a meal but they are not able to do that. At the Three Tuns before lockdown we were doing 90 meals, after lockdown that was down to 40 and after the restrictions were announced we were lucky to do 30 – that just shows the impact.
“While we totally understand why they have been put in place, when you are trying to run a business it is difficult.
“We employ a lot of people across all three businesses and our main concern is keeping them going.”
Ms Dixon has developed a takeaway delivery for all three venues.
Stephen Aldred, who owns and runs The Stables, in Horsemarket, Barnard Castle,
said: “The new restrictions have affected us massively. The effect was instant when they were put in. People just didn’t come in.
“Wednesdays are our busiest day, but it was dead. We have a group of elderly ladies who meet every week, but that’s stopped. They can’t sit at the same tables and so they are just not coming in. Last week it was dead. There was no one about.
“The tourists have stopped coming as well. The threat of another shutdown is dangling over our heads. I wouldn’t be surprised if they force another lockdown. France already have and the Government seems to follow what they do.
“It’s not a good time to have a hospitality business. We have to ask the Government what is their exit strategy. People need to have that little bit of hope and light at the end of the tunnel.”
Daughter Nicola Stephenson said: “We’ve done our utmost to put in place all the measures needed and we have the QR code in place, but many of our customers don’t have the latest smartphone so we also take details by hand.
“With these latest rules it’s very difficult. Who are we to question if people live in the same house? “
Many visitors to Teesdale are also unaware of the new restrictions governing County Durham.
Craig Stephenson, who runs The Teesdale Restaurant in Barnard Castle said: “It is affecting us massively. A lot of our customers are elderly and meet up as friends, but they are staying away.”
He added customers who would visit every day have not been in since the start of lockdown in March.
He said: “It is so confusing. One minute the rules say one thing, the next it’s another. We just got used to the rule of six and then they changed it again.
“We did close down for quite a while and we were getting back to normal, then they changed the rules again and we don’t know where we’re at.
“Once winter comes, we are going to be looking at damage limitation.”
Landlady Rima Chatterjee, who runs the Old Well pub on The Bank said: “We had several rooms booked from a customer in London who was coming for a walking holiday but because they were from several different households, they wouldn’t be able to dine at the same table. When they heard that, they just cancelled.”
The latest local lockdown restrictions have banned anyone from different households meeting up to have a drink or a bite to eat.
Mrs Chatterjee added: “It’s stopping people coming out. Most of the time you go out for a drink with friends, but that’s not happening now.
“How we survive it we just don’t know.”
Another café owner said: “We have people coming from different areas that you have to trust them that they are telling the truth that they are from the same household. How do you challenge them? Many visitors are not aware of the restrictions”
At the time of going to press, official statistics for September 24 to September 30 showed that there were between zero and two cases of coronavirus in upper Teesdale and Barnard Castle. Case numbers have stayed low in these two areas for months.
Teesdale was last month included in a local lockdown with the rest of County Durham and the North East at the request of regional council leaders.