It’s that time we’ve been waiting for. The next stage of lockdown easing has kicked in and pubs and highstreets are opening their doors. However, as with every part of the government’s roadmap, each new step brings risks.

In Middlesbrough they are working to minimise those risks with measures to keep people as safe as possible. Under the latest changes, non essential retail outlets are now allowed to open with pubs serving people outside. Hairdressers and beauty salons are trading again and council libraries and the Newham Bridge Farm are also open once again.

However, there are some new regulations in place. The Council will be supporting shops on issues such as queue management while hospitality outlets will have to scan the NHS QR code or get contact details from everyone in a group, not just the lead member. Anyone who refuses to provide their details should be refused entry.

The council is also making extra space available for pubs to serve customers outside, but they will have to apply for a license to do so.

Local businesses will also have social distancing signage in place and plenty of hand sanitiser readily available.

Middlesbrough’s infection rate currently stood at 32 per 100,000, on Thursday down from a peak of 676 in early January. However, the council is reminding people to continue following the rules of hand, face and space to keep infection rates down.

They will be helping businesses to follow the rules with licensing officers being joined by Cleveland Police on visits to pubs and restaurants to ensure all appropriate measures are in place.

Concerns regarding business practices can be reported to the Council’s Public Protection team via ehts@middlesbrough.gov.uk