North East council leaders call for more support for businesses amid third lockdown
A joint statement, issued by the leaders of councils in Sunderland, South Tyneside, Northumberland, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle and North Tyneside on Tuesday, January 5, urges people in the North East to remain at home in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
It follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation at 8pm on Monday, January 4, where he implemented a third national lockdown for England.
The statement was also signed by North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness.
It said: “The Prime Minister has rightly imposed a national lockdown in England, meaning we must all now stay at home except for essential reasons.
“It was vital decisive action was taken to regain control of infection rates that have been soaring across the nation, including in our own region, in recent weeks.
“We know this will come as a disappointment to our communities who have already given so much during the pandemic, but it was a step the Government simply had to take.
“We are all too aware of the mental and physical difficulties a lockdown brings, with people unable to see loved ones or do most of the activities they enjoy doing, and none of us wish to see schools closed.
“But the health of residents is the absolute priority for all of us, and we are now in a position where we can take action, prevent the NHS from becoming completely overwhelmed, and save lives.”
Council bosses also reiterated the lockdown rules to residents in the North East and said that support with be available to those who need it in terms of welfare and businesses.
They added: “The regulations are clear. Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. You can go to work if you cannot do so from home; you can shop for essentials; you can exercise; seek medical attention; escape domestic abuse; attend educational and childcare settings for those eligible; and a few other exceptional circumstances.
“Otherwise, staying at home and avoiding all contact with those outside your household or support bubble will deny this virus the opportunity to spread further.
"This is key if we are to prevent countless more deaths while the vaccination programme continues in earnest.
“We have argued for more support for local businesses and this morning’s announcement from the Chancellor regarding grants is welcome. But some businesses have fallen through the gaps since March, and still need additional support.
“We will monitor what other support our communities and businesses require.
“Similarly, there will be many out there who require support once again during this lockdown, and we will continue to provide welfare support as we have throughout the pandemic.
"We will also work with the Government to ensure that the necessary equipment is available to children for online learning and support our communities wherever possible.
“Please, stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives. Thank You.”