Andy Preston has urged the public to support pubs with strong coronavirus measures and give those that don’t a miss.
The Middlesbrough mayor spoke on a visit to town centre micro-pub Infant Hercules which has introduced a raft of new measures to keep the public safe – including novel “sneeze guard screens” between tables.
Mr Preston said: “I’m visiting businesses across the town to try and support their efforts to get things going again and to keep people in jobs.
“I’ve seen some brilliant examples of business owners doing really clever and innovative things to keep customers safe.
“What we don’t want to do is suffer a lockdown in Middlesbrough. That would be really bad for jobs and the economy.
“Pubs are not dangerous – badly run pubs are dangerous. So let’s support the good pubs and close the bad ones down.”
A number of towns and cities across the UK have faced local lockdowns or tighter social restrictions due to rising Covid-19 numbers.
The Government will look into placing local lockdown restrictions on any area with a rate higher than 50 cases per 100,000 people.
Middlesbrough has recently been regarded as an “area of concern” after reaching 45.5 cases per 100,000 people.
The Infant Hercules is run and owned by Middlesbrough couple Neil and Liz Hodds.
As well as installing the “sneeze guard screens” between tables, they also insist on people providing their details for track and trace, provide hand sanitation stations, have a one-way system to the toilets and will provide table service to those who want it.
Liz said: “Obviously we were really worried about reopening. A lot of our customers thought we wouldn’t.
“The screens were important. They make things a little distorted but you get the same atmosphere – you can still have a conversation.
“It’s all to make everyone feel safe and it wasn’t a hard thing to do.”
Neil added: “We’ve got most of the customers back now and there’s people who come here who say they won’t go to another pub.
“It wasn’t hard to make the changes – it has taken some working out but it wasn’t hard.”