Northumberland businesses' plea to customers after 'wrench' of third lockdown announcement

Alnwick traders have appealed for support from local residents as the latest national lockdown begins.

Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 12:27 pm

Rapidly escalating Covid-19 case numbers and hospital admissions in many parts of the country led to the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Lisa Aynsley, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, said: “Although not unexpected it’s still a real wrench to be going into a third national lockdown.

"I believe this will be the toughest one to date for small business but there is light at the end of this tunnel with the vaccine roll-out.

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Reaction from Alnwick to the latest national lockdown.

“Once again I call out to all our local customers to support everybody where they can. Support the takeaways, click and collect or shop online – but even just a like, share or follow across all the various social media platforms makes a positive impact and all it costs is your time of which we’ve all got a bit more at the moment.

“Please everybody stick to the rules so we can come out of this and back to business.”

It comes as the Northumberland Gazette continues its Support Local campaign encouraging readers to support local businesses.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to be given a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, with the measure costing £4billion across the UK.

Alnwick town centre.

The help is in addition to business rates relief and the furlough scheme which has been extended until the end of April.

Mark Jones, owner of The Dirty Bottles pub and restaurant on Narrowgate, said: “For a business like ours, it will help to keep the wolf from the door.

"It’s on top of the existing monthly grants for being closed so it means we will be able to keep paying the furlough difference and the mortgage and utility costs.”

He added: "I think everyone was expecting the lockdown but for us in hospitality it’s no different to what it was before Christmas.

Lisa Aynsley, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade.

"This time of year isn’t great for hospitality so being closed with financial support is not the worst case scenario if it means we can reopen by Easter when the tourists arrive.

"Fortunately for us, we have a road map to follow in that construction is still allowed and we have a few building projects which we can get on with as we work towards that point. That’s not going to be the case for a lot of businesses which are going to be left twiddling their thumbs.

"We are trying to remain as positive as we can which is important from a mental health perspective and, of course, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines.

"My concern would be that a lot of businesses are not going to make it.”

The Dirty Bottles, Alnwick.

In Northumberland, there were 336 positive cases per 100,000 with 1,076 new confirmed cases in the seven days up to January 2.

By comparison, the county-wide infection rate was 184.2 positive cases per 100,000 on December 27.

Under the new lockdown, people must now stay at home except for a handful of permitted reasons.

Schools and non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes are closed, except for takeaway or click and collect.

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