A COUNTRY pub at the heart of a rural community has temporarily called last orders after it said trading under strict coronavirus restrictions was 'not possible'.

The Bird in Bush at Elsdon praised the local community for its support since reopening in July, but has now taken the decision to close amid rising coronavirus cases in the region.

Stephen Shaw, owner alongside partner Katie Bland, said increased restrictions imposed on the North-East such as the one household per table rule removed the social nature of a bar.

"We have seen a massive drop in takings," he said, "the numbers were getting so low it was not viable."

Stephen admitted the decision to close was also influenced by a consciousness to protect the local community.

He explained: "We have tried to be very aware about what the community feels. It's a quiet village here and we want to be considerate to all the people.

"We have got to be mindful that our customers are not from this rural area and are coming from areas with higher infection rates.

"Protection for our staff and the wider community is vital until we have got a better picture of what the circumstances are. We think it's the right thing to do as much as it hurts."

Coun. Steven Bridgett, who represents the Rothbury division, which includes the village of Elsdon, has called for his rural ward to be removed from the Covid-19 restrictions in place in the North-East.

He wrote to Northumberland County Council’s director of public health, Liz Morgan, stating that it was “becoming increasingly difficult to justify these restrictions on such a blanket approach.”

Coun. Bridgett claimed that the government’s decisions “are causing more damage and eroding public confidence”.

He added: “I do not believe the latest restrictions can be justified within my own electoral division and I would be grateful if you could make such representations and request lifting said restrictions to the government and the various public health officials who are in charge of making such decisions.

"If such action is not taken to lift this area out of blanket restrictions and with no conclusive support from central government, these new restrictions are effectively the death knell for my local economy, particularly those in the hospitality sector.”

But Ms. Morgan said that while the authority understood the “difficulties and stresses”, of the increased restrictions, it was crucial all areas followed the same rules to contain the virus.

For Stephen Shaw, closing the pub will create time to continue renovating the pub's interior in hope of a return in the near future.

"We have initially said we'll close for three to four weeks, but we really don't know how long we'll be shut for.

"We bought the pub in the first place because we live here and we knew that the village needs a pub and we were determined to keep it going."

A national closure of the hospitality industry in March saw the Government hand out business support grants to affected businesses,which helped many pay off overheads, but with no new order to close businesses find themselves in limbo.

"What was always going to be a struggle in a small rural pub is going to be a battle now," Stephen added.