19 Sep Party hub Newcastle is already feeling the consequences of curfew and restrictions | UK News
Newcastle city centre has a strangely subdued atmosphere for a Friday night.
This is a party city with a night-time economy worth an estimated £340m, but as the new local lockdown restrictions bite, the pickings are slim.
In the Bigg Market, the destination of choice for generations of late night drinkers, the 10pm curfew imposed on bars and restaurants has drained the customers away.
Taxi driver Richard “Brad” Bradley has been driving these streets for 24 years and thinks the new restrictions, imposed just as business was starting to pick up again, will hit the city hard.
“September is [usually] our busiest month with all the new students,” he said.
“They’ve just put our city on a curfew and it’s going to knock everyone back to the beginning.”
The new restrictions bring an enforceable ban on households mixing at home, and advice not to mingle elsewhere.
Trisha Means, out for a pizza with husband Tom at the Portofino restaurant on Dean Street, says for them it will make little difference.
“We have parents that are in a high risk group, so we try to not to socialise too much,” she said.
But for the restaurant’s owners, who say cancellations for Saturday alone are running at 100 and counting, it is a different story.
Elsewhere, there is some disquiet about a gap between some of the messaging and reality.
In the Strawberry pub, limited to table service like all bars in the city, Lynn Campbell (rightly) suspects she cannot be fined £100 for sharing a table with friends, despite being told otherwise.
She has worked out that some of the lockdown restrictions are the law, and some are just guidance, and it has left her suspicious and confused.
“Can people socialise together, or can one person from one household sit with another one?” she said. “It’s just too vague, we just don’t really know.”
The law, however, is clear about when Lynn has to be out on the street.
At 10pm the Strawberry is empty, the doors are locked, and the landlord will make no more money tonight.
He, and the rest of Newcastle, wonder what the coming weeks and months will bring.