Areas of North East England are now facing tougher coronavirus restrictions than those introduced on September 18.
Health Secretary Announcement
As the spike in COVID-19 cases continues to rise the Health Secretary Matt Hancock took action without consulting local councils first. Speaking in The House Of Commons he said: “Today I must announce further measures for the parts of the North East where we introduced local action a fortnight ago.
“Unfortunately the number of cases continues to rise sharply. The incident rate across the area is now over 100 cases per 100,000.”
Mr Hancock went on: “We know that a large number of these infections are taking place in indoor settings outside the home.
“And so at the request of the local councils, with whom we have been working closely, we will introduce legal restrictions on indoor mixing between households in any setting.”
It means the amended regulations will affect seven boroughs in Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham.
As Mr Hancock said it confirms residents are now effectively banned from meeting with anyone outside of their own household or support bubble indoors, including in pubs and restaurants. Under the previous measures, this was guidance only.
Enforceable By Law
These measures will now be enforceable by law and subject to fines from 00:01 on Wednesday, September 30.
Council leaders have asked for clarity on the new restrictions, along with testing and support for those businesses most affected.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said a funding package is being agreed with councils to support the measures, with further details to be confirmed
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes said:
“While we have been in discussions with the Government on potential further restrictions the Secretary of State has once again stood up and announced changes without telling us he was about to do so.
“We want to work constructively with the government but the way these measures are being communicated in headlines and without detail does nothing for public confidence.
“We have demanded clarity on the new restrictions, testing and support for those businesses most affected.”