PUBS and business owners braved the bad weather to protest the 10pm curfew and the affect it is having on their businesses.

The protest took place in Crook, outside the Durham County Council offices, yesterday, Tuesday October 13.

The event was organised by two pub owners in the town, Aaron Paul Hicks who runs The Surtees Pub and Libby Bargewell who runs The Crown with her husband.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Hicks said: “This is a protest against the crippling curfews on our businesses. We don’t agree with the way we are being blamed for the rise in cases.

“Our pubs are safe environments; we have not had an outbreak since reopening back in July. This is because we deep clean, we make sure our customers social distance and they track and trace.

“Closing at 10pm means they go out into the street, an uncontrolled environment and buy booze at the supermarket.

“Before the 10pm curfew each pub in Crook had a different closing time, we would stagger the amount of people in the streets, so they would not form large groups.”

The Northern Echo:

Some pub owners are worried for the mental health of their customers if another lockdown causes pubs to close.

Mrs Bargewell said: “My pub is a community, and I am afraid that many of my customers will lose a vital lifeline if we keep struggling like this.

“I hope that this event causes a small ripple and that people in government start listening to us.”

The Northern Echo:

Taxi firms are also affected by the 10pm closure, three firms were present on the day.

Andrew Henderson of Chuck’s Taxis said: “We’ve come out to support the pubs we rely on. We used to have motors running until 3am but the curfew has put so many people off, it has crippled us.”

Dean Lawton of Dj’s Taxis added: “We are getting about 20 per cent of what we would usually get, I am trying to keep drivers on and I am having to give up my own savings to do it.”

"As the winter sets in this will take a big toll on our business and mental health.”

The Northern Echo:

Durham County Councillor Andrea Pattison said: "The 10pm curfew was a decision taken at a national level across England and it is unclear what it is actually based on. If we are going to tackle the spread of the virus we need decisions to be based on the science and there needs to be a clear rationale and evidence."