Following a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, the areas of Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland are considering implementing local lockdown restrictions.
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Councils in the given seven areas called for further restrictions on Monday. Nick Forbes, the Newcastle City Council Leader, said the new measures would prevent a "full lockdown." The BBC also reported a series of tweets, written by Forbes, denying the area was going to have another lockdown and that the measures were more about reinforcing social distancing where it was not being practised.
Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, told ITV, "The number of cases has been rising rapidly in many parts of the country, but in particular in the North East, and so a decision has been made to impose further restrictions there."
BBC analysis of the official government figures, up until the 13th of September, showed that Bolton had the highest rate with 204.1 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people recorded in a week.
In comparison, the COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the seven north east regions facing new restrictions are:
- 1 in Sunderland.
- 4 in South Tyneside.
- 7 in Gateshead.
- 1 in Newcastle.
- 7 in North Tyneside.
- 4 in County Durham.
- 7 in Northumberland.
Some of the expected measures in the new restrictions include pubs closing at 10.p.m., a ban on households mixing, and public transport use being restricted to essential travel only.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care told the BBC, "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."
The full extent of the restrictions will be announced this evening, are set to come into force at midnight.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, told The Sun that, "The only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas is to be tough now", and also said recently the government is doing "everything in its power" to prevent another countrywide lockdown.
Other parts of the UK are also currently operating under local restrictions. Many people across the UK cannot meet other households, and in Caerphilly county in Wales, people cannot leave their homes without a good reason.
The Prime Minister also told The Sun that the aim of these restrictions in parts of the country was to “stop the surge” and try to “flatten the second hump”, referring to the second increase in cases after the first wave.
Johnson also said that he was against locking down sections of the economy and that he would only consider closing pubs earlier. He told a group of MP’s on Wednesday that another nationwide lockdown would be “disastrous” for the UK.
The recent surge in demand has meant that testing capacity has increased, but there are still shortages. The PM said there is not enough testing capacity and therefore local restrictions were vital for combatting COVID-19.