To whom it may concern,
Food and Drink North East (FADNE) continues to consult companies across the region’s food and drink sector during this new phase of COVID-19 restrictions. Traders are being adversely affected during this already difficult time. As outdoor markets across Newcastle and the North East have been temporarily closed, we call for a sensible approach to the safe reopening of the outdoor economy.
On behalf of over 200 food and drink producers in the North East, we are asking councils in the North East to support outdoor community food and drink markets which are critical to grass roots economy. The current messaging and practice is unclear, with inconsistency in some outdoor markets in the region being allowed to continue to trade while others are not. As well as this, there are also contradictions regarding restrictions between indoor shops and outdoor markets.
With the potential of shorter, more sporadic and more localised lockdowns and restrictions in the near future, we ask local and regional government leaders to look now at how the outdoor economy can offer a lifeline to the food, drink and hospitality sector – one that is at continued risk of being highly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, and should be a thriving contributing sector to our region.
We absolutely want to keep the public safe and support our local leaders during this difficult time. We know that outdoor socialising is safer than indoors – a message that has been reinforced by the UK government. We therefore would like to work together with councils across the North East to develop a sensible and realistic plan to resume outdoor activities for all across the region.
At a time when our food and drinks businesses and industry are really struggling, outdoor trading could offer a lifeline. We ask that local authorities consult with FADNE, as the regional body and voice of the sector, to offer support and consistent messaging to our independent food and drinks businesses. Together, we can make informed decisions, bring expertise to the table, liaise with the most impacted in our sector, and work towards a solution that works for everyone.
With careful planning and consultation, we request an open dialogue with regional leaders as we continue to lobby for our outdoor markets to be reopened and for organisers to be trusted in the same way as other business owners are to ensure social distancing measures and systems are put into place to keep the public safe.
Chris Jewitt – Founder and Director
Food and Drink North East