THE district's hospitality sector is bracing itself for a further period of disruption as a third period of lockdown sets in.

But while restaurants, pubs and cafes are not allowed to welcome diners and drinkers, they can continue to offer takeaway meals.

At the Blenkinsopp Castle Inn, near Haltwhistle, Gary and Carol Stirling have just launched a new take-out menu, to offer variety for local customers in the new year.

Carol said the couple have adapted well to diversification, and that the government was doing its bit to support businesses.

However, she added that system for grant applications and receiving support was complex.

"We can't complain about the lockdown," said Carol. "It has to happen and there is now a lot of fear about the number of Covid cases and how the virus is affecting our communities.

"We're all in the same boat. I think the government is doing what it can to support businesses but applying for the grants which are available is quite a complicated and lengthy process.

"We applied for the Local Restrictions Support Grant in November and were told we would receive it, but we're still waiting for it to arrive and there are bills to pay."

Nick Anderson, of the Coffee Cup cafe in Hexham, is set to reopen for takeaways on Saturday, after taking a break over the Christmas period.

He said: "We've had some support from the government and I know another grant scheme has been announced.

"I just hope the support will continue if we need it two or three months down the line.

"People are encouraged to stay at home, but they are allowed out for food and we just want to remind them that we are here to provide breakfasts and meals for them."