New restrictions aimed at stemming an increase in coronavirus cases have come into force in the north-east of England, affecting nearly two million people.
The temporary measures, which started at midnight, aim to tackle “worrying infection rates” in the region.
The rules apply to Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and the County Council area of Durham.
Pubs and restaurants have to close early and household mixing has been limited.
Responding to the rise in infections, Newcastle City Council chief Nick Forbes said: ‘The evidence we have found from local testing is that it is spreading in three main areas – in pubs, in people’s homes and in grassroots sports. ”
Meanwhile, the BBC understands that new local lockdown restrictions are to be introduced in most of Lancashire, with the exception of Blackpool.
An announcement on measures in parts of north-west England is expected from the government later on Friday.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson told the Liverpool Echo “we fully expect” further restrictions as infection rates in the city have exceeded 100 per 100,000 inhabitants.
New measures for North East England include:
- Meeting people outside your home or a supportive bubble in private homes and gardens is prohibited (exemptions include attending a birth, visiting a dying person, work, education, registered child care, emergencies or care issues, relocation and contact arrangements)
- People are advised not to socialize outside their homes in public places
- Residents should only use public transport for essential purposes, such as going to school or work
- Pubs, restaurants and cafes must be served at the table only and all leisure venues must close at 10 p.m.
- Holidays are allowed but only with members of your household or the support bubble
- Travel outside the area is permitted, but visiting another house or garden is not
- People should not attend grassroots sport or play sports in restricted areas
- Schools, colleges and universities remain open
- Nursing homes are closed to non-essential visitors, except in the event of end of life
- There are no local changes to funerals, weddings or religious ceremonies
Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The data indicates we need to act now.”
He said Sunderland currently has an infection rate of 103 cases per 100,000 population. In South Tyneside and Gateshead, the latest published rates were 93.4 and 83.6 respectively.
Concerns have been raised about increased wait times for coronavirus test results for people using community testing centers.
In Sunderland, drivers lined up outside a Covid test center, only to later find it was empty.
Confusion remains on some of the measures.
Discussions between the council and the government continued on whether to exclude grandparents assisting with childcare from the restrictions.
Mr Forbes tweeted that Newcastle City Council had “specifically” requested that this be allowed and “hoped” for confirmation from the government.
Council leaders also asked for additional funding for police services, as well as additional testing facilities.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth echoed the need for more testing capacity in areas where restrictions were tightened.
He said there was an urgent need for the government to “fix the tests, fix the tracing” or face a “very dark winter”.
County Durham Director of Public Health Amanda Healy said: “If we are to be able to continue going to work, to school, to stay in touch with loved ones but to stop an increase in the cases that we have seen, we really urge people to adhere to the advice released today. ”
Gateshead Council Chief Martin Gannon said: “No one is looking forward to these things, but I think the vast majority of people recognize that these are extremely difficult times and that we all need to act and work together. ”
Small businesses have generally welcomed the lockdown, but called for more support to adapt to the new measures.
Simon Hanson, Northeast Development Director of the Federation of Small Businesses, said it was “absolutely essential” for small and micro-enterprises to receive early financial support to help them adjust and deliver. liquidity.
An estimated 10 million people in the UK are currently facing additional coronavirus restrictions, with local lockdowns covering parts of Scotland, South Wales, the North West and the North East from England, Yorkshire and the Midlands.
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