'Expected but frustrating' - Hartlepool's hospitality and political leaders react to Christmas Tier 3 news

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Hartlepool leaders say people will be disappointed and frustrated at staying in the highest tier restrictions – but appealed to residents to continue to help drive down infections.

Thursday’s announcement by the Government means people can still not mix outside of household bubbles and Christmas relaxations, and pubs and restaurants must stay closed.

Representatives from the town’s hospitality industry warned businesses risk going bust the longer they have to remain shut.

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Hartlepool Borough Council leader, Councillor Shane Moore said the town could look forward to next year with confidence, but can’t afford to drop its guard now.

He said: “I know that people in Hartlepool – especially businesses – will be very disappointed and frustrated by the Government’s decision that Hartlepool is to stay in Tier 3.

"I share that frustration. Thanks to all your efforts, we have made a real impact on driving down Covid levels in the borough.

"However, we’re clearly not out of the woods yet, and it would be awful if we jeopardised the progress we are making, especially with the national vaccine rollout now starting to gather momentum.”

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Cllr Moore added on Twitter that mass testing is due to start in Hartlepool in the New Year.

Hartlepool Council Leader Cllr Shane Moore (left) and Mike Hill reacted to the latest Tier 3 announcement on December 17.Hartlepool Council Leader Cllr Shane Moore (left) and Mike Hill reacted to the latest Tier 3 announcement on December 17.
Hartlepool Council Leader Cllr Shane Moore (left) and Mike Hill reacted to the latest Tier 3 announcement on December 17.

He and Hartlepool MP Mike Hill asked people to continue to follow social distancing, hand washing and face mask rules.

Mr Hill said: “I know these are very frustrating times for everyone, especially local hospitality businesses who will be hit hard by this decision, but the fact is that the numbers remain high both here and across the region and our local hospital trust is reporting double the number of Covid patients than in the first wave.

"If we continue to stick to the rules then the figures will continue to fall and hopefully this nightmare will end sooner rather than later.”

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Darab Rezai, chairman of Hartlepool Licensing Association, which represents the town’s bars and restaurants, said they felt ‘picked on’ by having to close.

Darab Rezai, chair of Hartlepool Licensing Association.Darab Rezai, chair of Hartlepool Licensing Association.
Darab Rezai, chair of Hartlepool Licensing Association.

He said: "I think the majority of people are getting punished for a small minority who don’t follow the rules.

“Bars and restaurants are suffering because the money they receive doesn’t compensate for all their overheads.

"Very soon if we’re not careful we’re going to lose a lot of outlets.”

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Mr Rezai added retail is also suffering as people often combine shopping with eating and drinking out.

"The impact is tremendous,” he said.

Lee Penwick, of Seaton Carew’s Trinity Tea Rooms said: “It’s sad to say but I think a lot of places won’t recover from this, especially small businesses.”

Kevin Reid, chef at The Harbour View restaurant on Hartlepool marina, said he wanted the town to come out of Tier 3 as soon as possible.

He said: “I’ve never known the hospitality industry to be on its knees like it is right now.”

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Hartlepool Borough Council is currently inviting pubs to apply for new government grants of £1,000.

It is administering the Christmas Support Payment for Wet-Led Pubs for those that make less than half of their income from food sales.

And the council is also offering support to eligible ‘dry’ pubs.

Final applications must be received no later than January 31. See www.hartlepool.gov.uk/wet-pubs-support or email [email protected]

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