Lockdown rules broken over sunny weekend North East leaders say as they urge people to 'play their part'

As the sunny weekend brought reports of people flouting lockdown rules and concerns over social distancing, North East leaders have urged people to stay vigilant to help the region recover.

In less than a week schools will reopen and the start of a easing of lockdown restriction begins.

Now council chiefs in the North East are urging the public to remain vigilant after the sunny weekend brought reports of people flouting lockdown rules and raising concerns over social distancing.

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In a statement, leaders remind families that the milestones set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap allowing us to return to a more normal life can only be met ‘if we all play our part and follow the rules in order to prevent a surge in infection rates’.

Police officers stop to issue compliance letters to motorists travelling from afar to South Shields seaside, in South Tyneside over the weekend

On March 8, schools across the country will reopen and weeks later on March 29 groups of six will once again be able to meet outdoors – including in private gardens.

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Non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and beer gardens are among the businesses which could reopen as early as April 12.

The statement says: “This weekend saw the good weather attract many people outdoors for their exercise. That’s understandable, but please remember to only meet up with one other person or stay within your household or support bubble, and stay local.

Coun Glen Sanderson,  Leader of Northumberland County Council , Coun Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council  and Coun Graeme Miller,  Leader of Sunderland City Council

"Over the weekend there were reports of people going beyond these rules and some concerns over a lack of social distancing.

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“The overwhelming majority of people have been magnificent in following the rules during the ongoing period of lockdown but we are in danger of undoing all that good work if we all don’t continue to do so.

“It is concerning to see this happening just ahead of the important milestone of the schools going back on March 8. Our teams are working with teachers and staff to make sure the return is smooth and Covid secure. We all need to support them, as well as our NHS colleagues, by remembering and following at all times the hands-face-space advice to continue to drive the number of Covid infections in the community down.”

With one of the ‘most important Budgets in history’ due to be unveiled on Wednesday, March 3, the LA7 say it is the Chancellor and the Government’s opportunity to build on the furlough scheme and business support packages so that when the economy reopens as many people remain in jobs as possible.

The statement adds: “The North East has presented a compelling case to play a leading role in the country’s recovery from the biggest economic shock in living memory – a crisis which requires an unprecedented response.

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“We have many shovel-ready projects alongside a huge number of well-thought out and costed initiatives which could bring high quality sustainable jobs to the region – linked to our ambitious plans for a Net Zero economy.

“Our dialogue with government has been constructive and we very much hope these discussions will be recognised in this Budget with meaningful investment, confirmation of our existing business case, and a significant devolution of resources alongside strong, suitable support packages to benefit both individuals and businesses.”

Signed by:

Coun Simon Henig CBE, Leader, Durham County Council   

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Coun Martin Gannon, Leader, Gateshead Council  

Coun Nick Forbes CBE, Leader, Newcastle City Council  

Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor, North Tyneside Council  

Coun Glen Sanderson, Leader, Northumberland County Council  

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Coun Tracey Dixon, Leader, South Tyneside Council  

Coun Graeme Miller, Leader, Sunderland City Council   

Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor  

Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner

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