AS new restrictions come in to force across, the North-East hospitality and events industry is set to take a "devastating" hit.

The major changes lie around pubs, bars and restaurants, who must all wear face masks, close at 10pm and operate via table service only.

North Durham MP Kevan Jones is calling on Government to urgently put in place further support packages for the hospitality and leisure sectors – some of which are more prepared than others for tightening restrictions.

He said: “The Prime Minister’s announcement today on further restrictions will have a devastating effect on the UK and North-East economy.

"The Government has failed on test and trace, with no further measures outlined today. Without a local plan for testing and tracing headed by directors of Public Health, not private companies, this will continue to fail.

"The Government needs to urgently put in place support packages for businesses, particularly those in the leisure and hospitality sectors. Without this support, businesses will go bust and people will lose their jobs.”

Darlington music venue The Forum is operating at a loss due to its reduced capacity of 36 from 200 – and its future in the face of coronavirus relies on a cultural grant.

Allison McKay, director of the venue, said: "We're finishing music by 10pm anyway but are finding it better to have staff on the bar – if this has to change to table service then we will adapt.

"I have applied for some funding so if we get that, then it will see us through to March. If we don't, we would have to look at some sort of community fund raising."

The Mowden pub, also in Darlington, has been operating with reduced hours since reopening so will only lose half an hour of trade with the new restrictions.

Landlord Simon Leadbetter said: "These are just things we've been doing since day one of reopening. We have reduced hours, implemented table service and staff wear masks.

"We know that other places didn't do these things so actually questioned whether we had gone too far, but clearly not.

"We are mostly worried about Christmas. That's when the industry makes most of its money. We were fully booked in January – for 130 tables. Some of those are larger groups too so we will see what we have to do there.

"The same for new years, people are asking what we're doing. If the restrictions last six months, at least it brings some stability and we can plan ahead – the hardest part in this is not being able to."

The Mowden will soon have a marquee in its garden to allow for extra space, which will be used through winter months to buffer against reduced capacity after seeing a reduction in takings of 40 per cent per week.

Real ale pub Half Moon is losing an hour of trade with the new curfew, but landlord John Anderson says it is "doing okay".

He said: "It's not fantastic but we're doing okay. The changing guidelines are confusing but we just work our way thorough them and make sense of what we can. It's tough but we are all right.

"If we were to completely close again, that would be a problem. We would need support but I appreciate the government can't just keep paying out."

The number of people who can attend weddings has also been reduced from 30 to 15 – which includes the registrars, any venue staff, the bride and groom as well as guests.

Wedding expert Elizabeth Clarke, who publishes The Wedding Guide and hosts industry networking events across the North-East and Yorkshire, also said the latest developments are "devastating".

She said: "It's just one step forward and two steps back. Some venues have stopped putting on weddings because it's just not worth it for them. The uncertainty means venues don't have enough bookings to even take staff off furlough. It's crazy pubs can be open but weddings can only have 15 people – what difference does 10pm make?

"Full lockdown was almost easier because at least we all knew what the rules were. It's so ambiguous now."

Most jobs for North-East companies Ultrasound Events and bespoke lighting firm Illumin8 Letters, both owned Paul Ferry, come from weddings.

The man is thankful of Government support but says he will struggle past the end of the year if restrictions do not ease.

He said: "Anyone that is having a 15-person – or even 30-person – wedding is not having entertainment. They don't need a DJ, photobooth or large lights.

"A year of no birthdays, anniversaries, proms, Christmas parties and no New Year – we have a lot of big equipment just sat there gathering dust.

"While I'm thankful for those that have postponed and not cancelled jobs, but they are booking up our 2021 calendar while we should have serviced them already. That's a whole year of jobs gone if new restrictions last another six months.

"I am proud of the government for the support they have given small businesses and the self employed but the future is going to be difficult – and this is for a businesses that's been going 31 years. There are others worse off than me.

"We can't liquidate assets because the only people who would buy them also can't have events. It's catch-22. But if that's what it takes to make everyone safe, we have to do it."