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Firms in 'no man's land' need more support

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston today repeats his call for more support for the town's businesses left in "no man's land" by Covid restrictions.

Middlesbrough was placed in the ‘high' Covid alert level on Monday with new laws due to come into place at 00:01 on Wednesday.

It will remain illegal for people from different households to mix in any indoor setting, including homes, restaurants and pubs.

Mr Preston supports the need for restrictions designed to stop the spread of the virus, but has reiterated his concerns for the town's hospitality industry.

He said: "The government needs to do all it can to save every job possible. Hospitality businesses in Middlesbrough have been left in no man's land by the current restrictions.

"The risk is that we see monstrous job losses that lead to social problems and huge bills for years down the line. That's the reality of a sharp rise in unemployment.

"The government has an unbelievably difficult job at the moment. The decisions they are taking have to be so finely balanced, but I firmly believe more must be done to keep people in work."

Mr Preston is also keen to remind families around Middlesbrough that the current restrictions don't represent a return to lockdown.

"The rules are in place to keep us all fit and healthy, but they do allow people from the same household or bubble to visit cafes, restaurants and pubs together.

"We have great businesses in Middlesbrough and we'll continue to champion those that are doing the right thing by operating in a safe manner.

"They need all the support they can get right now and your custom will be very welcome."

One key change from Wednesday will allow people to meet with people from a different household in gardens - providing the rule of six is observed.

Mr Preston welcomed that change but warned people not to abuse it.

"Before Middlesbrough was originally placed under restrictions earlier this month I called for gardens to be exempt from the socialising rule.

"It's so important for mental health that people can chat with a friend or relative over a cup of tea.

"But let's be clear this isn't about barbecues or reckless parties. If we abuse this change we risk more people becoming ill and we'll see harsher rules introduced.

"People should follow the rules, wear a face covering whenever instructed and wash their hands regularly. Together we can get Middlesbrough's infection rate down and look forward to a much happier 2021."

Read our guide to the new restrictions for residents and businesses.

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