UK Politics

Party hub Newcastle is already feeling the consequences of curfew and restrictions

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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.

Image: Taxi driver Richard Bradley in a near-empty Bigg Market

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.

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"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.

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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.

Trisha and Tom Means in the Portofino restaurant
Image: Trisha and Tom Means in the Portofino restaurant

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.

Beer pumps and disinfectant in the subdued Strawberry pub
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