Local lockdown measures have now come into effect for the first time in the borough, with households prohibited from hanging out indoors with other people – including in pubs and restaurants.
And judging by the scenes from a wet weekend, it could be a long winter.
City boozers are already one area of the hospitality industry that is already tougher than most by the covid-19 situation.
Some pubs are now faced with the agonizing decision to open or not following a drastic reduction in revenue.
New measures mean they must not only close at 10 p.m., but households are also prohibited from mixing indoors.
Matthew Greaves of Dickens on Southfield Road wondered how long the current climate is sustainable.
He told BBC Look North: “We had a meeting, we decided we were going to see how the weekend goes, see if it’s viable and Monday morning we will have another conversation.
“How long can we go on like this?” Continue to staff if the money does not arrive. ”
Jenny Gappy, a bar worker at Dickens added: “A lot of people think bar work is social work when I pay my bills when I come to work.
“I make sure my kids have everything they need and at this point when we don’t know if we’re going to be open, it’s pretty scary. ”
What you need to know about local locks
On Saturday in the pubs of central Middlesbrough, a word came to my mind: calm, to say the least.
Where venues were traditionally packed before Boro’s home kick-off at 3 p.m., the atmosphere was much more muffled and non-existent in many places – especially as Boro was returning to play in an empty stadium.
Electrician Brad Waites, 24, from Stockton, was having a pint in the outdoor seating area of Swatter’s Carr on Linthorpe Road.
He said: “I think for restaurants and pubs closing at 10pm, it just creates more congestion between things.
“Now anyone can come in. People are going to go out until ten o’clock and go somewhere after that.
“It’s just going to get more people to go to house parties, kitchens, stuff like that.
“The way I see myself, it just crucifies business.
“My family owns seven pubs, at the end of the day they’ve lost a lot of money. “
Jack Munt, 24, a process operator, from Stockton, said: “I just think it’s confusing, they say go out, half-price meal, then that.
“You can go to work, you can go to school, but not to pubs.
“I think at the start of the lockout everyone was in agreement but he (Boris Johnson) changed the rules too much. ”
Brad added, “Until that 10pm thing, The Dickens was open until 2am, it was heaven.
“After 10 pm, no one will leave. ”
Another man who declined to give his name simply summed up his views in one sentence: “I think the rules are pathetic. ”
Many other places in the city were exceptionally quiet, with barely a soul on Southfield Road.
Baker Street and Bedford Street weren’t much better, and apart from a few diners having a bite to eat, they were almost deserted.
It has been warned that the economic cost of local lockdowns could be catastrophic, with the ad industry saying a quarter of sites could shut down permanently.
There are fears such closures could lead to the loss of 290,000 jobs across the country – Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston has said businesses could collapse “within days”.
It’s a similar situation at Hartlepool, with the Fuschia Lounge on the marina announcing that Saturday would be its last day of operation until government restrictions on household mixing are lifted.
“This is not at all what we wanted, but as we know that the majority of our clients are groups of friends, we cannot risk a permanent closure, we would like to say a big thank you to all who have supported us since our reopening in July. and we look forward to welcoming you back as soon as possible, ”the bar posted on Facebook.
Idols on Church Street in Hartlepool said Thursday: “Following today’s announcement, we have decided to close for a few weeks. It has become impossible for our site to continue to function. Hopefully things will improve soon. ”
Jack n Jill of Middlesbrough, Berwick Hills, initially decided to close once the measures were announced, but later posted: Following discussions with the council, we decided to reopen under very strict guidelines. “People must, must obey the new rules. Unless you are from the same household, you should sit three feet apart. ”
On Thursday, Mr Preston denounced the new government measures, lamenting a “monstrous and frightening lack of communication” and saying that “as it stands we are defying the government”.
He expressed his frustration and said the council felt ignored after the new measures included banning household meetings in places like cafes, pubs and restaurants.
But he later urged people to follow the rules and offered to work with the government on ways to lift the restrictions.
Teesside Live was told that for local lockdowns to be lifted, local infection rates must start to drop – but the Department of Health and Social Affairs has yet to explain what the rate is expected to fall to. and for how long.