LONG-STANDING businesses and institutions in a town centre have closed their doors due to the rising rate of coronavirus cases.

Haltwhistle continues to top the table for the highest number of positive Covid-19 tests in Northumberland, with outbreaks at schools and factories cited as local hotspots.

The town’s I-Save convenience store told customers on social media last week that it had closed its store and the Toy & Gift Shop until further notice.

In a move to protect the health and safety of staff and customers, the store reverted to a delivery-only service up until December 24.

Haltwhistle’s Methodist Church had organised a local community knitted angels project but have delayed the plans until next year.

All events over the festive period have been cancelled and the church will remain closed until January.

Pet store Heads & Tails, on Main Street, also closed earlier this month and plans to reopen next year.

Northumberland County Councillor for Haltwhistle, Coun. Ian Hutchinson, urged residents to stay safe over the Christmas period.

"Everybody is really worried about what's going on," he said.

While the number of Covid-19 infections in the ward area has decreased from the 65 reported earlier this month, Mr Hutchinson said residents should limit their social contact to help drive the figures down.

"The council data makes it appear that the infections are just in Haltwhistle town but it's the surrounding areas of Plenmeller, Halton Le Gate and Slaggyford."

Coun. Hutchinson said he had been contacted by residents expressing their worry over the shop closures.

He added: "People are starting to worry especially with Christmas near.

"I urge locals to take care, stay safe and enjoy yourselves."