The region's businesses welcome news they can reopen next week - but there's reservations over 'vaccine passports'

Report by Julie Harrison

Businesses across the region have welcomed the Prime Minister's confirmation that they can reopen in a week. 

Boris Johnson outlined his plan for easing restrictions on Monday and confirmed shops, hairdressers and pub beer gardens will reopen from April 12 in England, and urged the public against complacency when it came to obeying the rules.

But many hospitality businesses, like this microbrewery in Whitley Bay, DON'T have outside space - and are hoping for further government support.

Anthony Patton, Owner, The Dog and Rabbit, Whitley Bay

The PM, setting out the move to the second step of the road map on Monday, said the shift was “fully justified by the data” and that he had seen “nothing” to make him think he would have to “deviate” from his intention to scrap all restrictions by June 21 at the earliest.

His comments come despite modelling from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) showing that, while stage two of the unlocking is unlikely to exert pressure on the NHS, the proposed changes for May and June when social mixing is set to be permitted again could cause hospital admissions to rise to levels seen during January’s winter peak.

Stage two of lockdown easing will see some premises allowed to reopen – some of them for the first time in three months – from next week, including non-essential shops, hairdressers and nail salons, gyms, while independent or household visits to libraries, community centres, zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas will also be allowed.

However, one of the fallouts from the Prime Minister's press conference last night has been the growing unrest about the long term plans for so-called vaccine passports. 

They're going to be trialled in the coming weeks at sporting events - pubs and restaurants opening up next week won't need them. 

But with long term plans including bars that sign up to the scheme possibly allowed to ditch social distancing.

Many businesses and landlords here are today trying to work out if they're a gateway to more business, or whether they'll risk putting people off entirely.