LOCKDOWN-style restrictions will come into force affecting households and pubs in parts of the North-East.
From midnight tonight, Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and County Durham will face new lockdown rules.
Tough new restrictions include a ban on households mixing with other households, a curfew on pubs, restaurants and bars, and restrictions on non-essential public transport.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the annoucement in the House of Commons this morning.
Speaking in the Commons, he said: “From tomorrow, in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham, residents should not socialise with other people outside their own households or support bubble.
“Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only and late night restrictions on operating hours will be introduced so leisure and entertainment venues must close between 10pm and 5am.”
Before the announcement, Mr Hancock said the Government had seen ‘concerning’ rates of infection.
He said: “We’ve seen concerning rates of infection in the North-East, Sunderland now has an incidence rate of 103 positive cases per 100,000 population.
“In South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, the figures are all above 70, as a result local authorities wrote to me earlier this week asking for tighter restrictions and we’ve taken swift action to put them in place.”
As his speech came to a close, Mr Hancock said that the people of the North-East will “come together” to beat the virus.
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.
“And I know that the people of the North East will come together to beat this virus, as defeat it we must,” he added.
The new lockdown rules now mean anyone over 18 who is caught flouting restrictions can be fined up to £3,200.
Those caught breaching local lockdown rules will be fined £100 for the first offence, lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days.
Meanwhile, a second offence will carry a £200 fine, doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £3,200.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning, Amanda Healey, Director of Public Health at Durham County Council, said the seven council areas will monitor the situation on a weekly basis.
She said: “We hope, that is one of the reasons we’ve asked for restrictions now, is to be proactive and preventative, to be monitored on a weekly basis.
“We’ll be looking at an exit strategy as soon as possible once we see those cases come down.”
- The Northern Echo will be bringing you further coverage on how this affects you throughout the day.