Lockdown Restrictions in Place from Midnight Tonight.
A Government minister has said tough new lockdown measures for the North East will come into play at midnight tonight. Previously it had been reported that the new restrictions, which are expected to include bans on mingling with other households, would not start until just after midnight on Friday.
However appearing on ITV show Peston, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick revealed those new rules will now come in 24 hours earlier.
“The number of cases have been rising rapidly in many parts of the country, but in particular the North East,” said Mr Jenrick. “So a decision has been made to impose further restrictions there. A full announcement will be made (on Thursday) so people living in that part of the country should watch out for that”.
“And the measures will come into play at midnight on Thursday evening, so over the course of the day a full briefing will be made available for everybody, including the councils and the business community.”
An explosion in coronavirus cases sparked united calls from the North East’s councils for the Government to enforce tougher restrictions around the region.
The expected ‘local lockdown’ measures are among the toughest anywhere in the UK to date. They are set to include a ban on socialising with anybody outside your household bubble – be that indoors or outdoors. Pubs will remain open but must close by 10pm. You can only visit with members of your household.
The North East has seen a resurgence of coronavirus in recent weeks and four boroughs were last week placed on the government’s watchlist for areas needing “enhanced support”.
On Monday, councils in the seven areas of Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland called for new restrictions.
BBC analysis of the government’s figures shows that, as of Wednesday, Bolton had the highest rate in England at 204.1 per 100,000 people in the week to 13 September.
Sunderland’s rate was 82.1 per 100,000 people, South Tyneside was 93.4, Gateshead was 81.7, Newcastle was 64.1, North Tyneside was 46.7, with County Durham at 37.4 and Northumberland at 25.7.
In total there were 1,106 new cases in a seven-day period.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We constantly monitor infection rates across the country and keep all measures under review in consultation with local leaders. “Any changes to local restrictions will be announced in the usual way.”
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said the temporary measures would mainly be a restriction on social gatherings.
“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 government for additional restrictions around these areas for a fixed period of time to try to prevent a damaging full lockdown.”
The council leaders had also requested additional funding for policing to enforce the measures, as well as additional local testing facilities, Mr Forbes added.
“All of the testing facilities in our region are more or less at full capacity every day – we’re hearing stories of people being sent 200 miles to get a test and that’s not acceptable.
“That’s why we’ve asked as council leaders for more resources immediately, because we need to make sure anyone with symptoms gets an immediate test and gets the result back straight away.”