North East retailers prepare for 'bumper month' after lockdown

Our Correspondent Gregg Easteal has been in Middlesbrough as the region's retailers prepare for a bumper month, once lockdown ends.

The Government announced yesterday that three households will be allowed to mix for up to five days in a plan to allow families to reunite at Christmas.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove confirmed the scheme after a meeting on Tuesday between ministers across the UK.

Jonathan Walker, director of policy, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “The Prime Minister’s statement today and recent good news on vaccine development raise hopes of a future beyond the current crisis, but without further detail many businesses in the North East are unable to plan beyond next Wednesday.   

“Substantial questions remain unanswered, the most important of which is which new rules will apply to our region? The answer to this must be provided swiftly and be supported by robust evidence. We also want to see Government commit to working closely with local authorities to navigate effectively and quickly down through the allotted tiers. 

“It is essential for business support to be sustained and Government must be open to applying further measures if and when required, as well as delivering a functioning Test and Trace system, which will continue to be vital over the coming months.”

As England prepares to exit lockdown on December 2, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged the risks involved in a Christmas relaxation, saying it is the “season to be jolly careful”, but is determined to give families the chance to meet up at the end of a grim year.

People aged over 65 in care homes will not be able to join their families for Christmas under the new guidance.Shared households in England – such as friends sharing a flat – would be able to split up to join another household for the five-day period.

But in families where three children live away from home, they would not all be able to return for Christmas. However, university students returning from halls at the end of term would automatically rejoin their family household and therefore not be included as a separate household.