Nearly 2 million in north-east England will see new restrictions from midnight
Almost two million people in north-east England will be under new restrictions following a rise in Covid-19 cases.
The temporary measures will be introduced to the Northumberland, Newcastle, Sunderland, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead and County Durham council areas from midnight.
The measures include restrictions on households mixing and pubs closing early.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there were “concerning rates of infection in the North East.”
Sunderland currently has an infection rate of 103 cases per 100,000 people, while South Tyneside Gateshead and Newcastle the figures are all above 70, he said.
The government was taking “swift action” after concerns were raised by councils covering the affected areas, Hancock added.
Hancock confirmed under the new restrictions residents will not be able to mix with people outside their households and support bubbles.
Restaurants will only be able to offer table service and restaurants, bars and pubs will have to close between 22:00 BST and 05:00.
The latest measures come as figures showed people using community coronavirus testing centres in England were waiting longer for their results.
‘Preventing a damaging full lockdown’
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said the measures were temporary and aimed at “preventing a damaging full lockdown.”
“The evidence we’ve found from local testing is that it’s spreading in three main areas – in pubs, in people’s homes and in grassroots sports,” he said.
“So [council leaders] have put together a series of requests to [the] government for additional restrictions around these areas for a fixed period to time to try to prevent a damaging full lockdown.”
They’ve also requested additional funding for policing to enforce the measures and additional local testing facilities, Forbes added.
Matt Hancock said the people of the North East will “come together” to beat the coronavirus.
He said: “I know, the whole House knows, that these decisions have a real impact on families, on businesses and on local communities and I can tell everyone affected that we do not take these decisions lightly.
“We agree with the local councils that we must follow the data and act and the data says that we must act now so that we can control the virus and keep people safe.”
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