OUTDOOR markets across parts of the North-East have been temporarily stopped due to tightened Covid restrictions, but an organisation representing the food and drink sector is calling for a sensible approach to the outdoor economy – which is a lifeline for hospitality.

Food and Drink North East (FADNE) director Jessie Joe Jacobs, who is also running for Tees Valley mayor, said: “On behalf of over 200 food and drinks producers in the North-East, we are asking for a sensible approach by councils to outdoor markets and outdoors activities.

“In increasingly uncertain times, with the potential of shorter, more sporadic and more localised lockdowns and restrictions, our councils and local leaders should be looking to how an outdoor economy can offer a lifeline to the food, drink and hospitality sectors.

"Instead we are seeing knee jerk reactions and seeming contradictions between indoor shops and outdoor markets.”

The Community Interest Company wants to see councils establish sensible and realistic plans for outdoors activities.

Chris Jewitt, FADNE founder and organiser of Jesmond market said: “We had 20+ traders lined up for this Saturday’s market and now thousands of pounds of products will be wasted.

“Just like supermarket managers and owners, organisers of markets have worked hard to put in place social distancing systems to keep the public safe.

“At a time when our food and drinks businesses and industry is really struggling, outdoor trading could offer a lifeline. We need out the box thinking. Markets could have a role in keeping our sector going."