Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed Sunderland, South Tyneside, Newcastle, Northumberland, County Durham, North Tyneside and Gateshead will all stay in Tier 3 over the festive period.
But ministers have rejected calls to scrap a planned easing of rules between December 23-27 allowing ‘Christmas bubbles’ of up to three households to meet.
In a joint statement, leaders from across the region said: “This will be a long process and we all need to be patient.
“That is why we are asking everyone to carefully consider their plans and actions over the festive period.
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“Just because the law says we can all meet three households over five days, doesn’t mean we should choose to do so.
“Increases in social contact and household mixing over Christmas could see infections rise steeply again in the New Year so we must act responsibly to suppress the virus.
“Of course, we understand people wanting to see each other but we also want families to be able to see each other and celebrate future Christmases, birthdays and family events.”
The warning was issued by the leaders of the North East’s seven local authorities, the ‘LA7’, as well as Kim McGuinness, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, and Jamie Driscoll, the North of Tyne Mayor.
However, while the group accepted the current need to keep the current set of restrictions in place, they have also called for more answers on the criteria which could see the North East move into a lower tier when ministers review them in the New Year (2021).
Tier 3 rules have seen pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants limited to takeaway only, fans banned from football matches and strict limits on socialising.
“We still need a greater understanding of how moving out of Tier 3 will be determined in the New Year,” the statement added.
“As leaders, we are incredibly proud of and grateful to the people of the North East for their efforts in following the rules, laws and guidance throughout the pandemic.
“Their efforts have seen infection rates come down but sadly the virus continues to be a potent threat, putting pressure on NHS services, and we need to keep doing our bit to protect the most vulnerable in society.”