'Unlikely' any further restrictions will apply in the North East, says council leader as area looks set to stay under tier two lockdown
A North East council leader says it is ‘unlikely’ any further coronavirus restrictions will be brought in throughout the region – at least for now.
Newcastle City Council Leader Nick Forbes has announced it is ‘unlikely’ the region will face any further restrictions but warns the threat of further closures ‘can’t be ruled out’ if Covid numbers don’t start to come down.
He has also called for urgently-needed clarification on an economic support packages for businesses.
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There have been fears the hospitality industry will be forced to close its doors due to a large rise in cases in the North East.
The surge in cases has already led to restrictions on nine local authority areas in the region – County Durham, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
The current restrictions are in line with the tier two level.
Posting on Twitter, Mr Forbes said: “I'm pleased that, for now, it's unlikely any further restrictions will apply in the North East. We need a period of stability and consistent rules, so everyone is clear what we all need to do.
"However, we can't be complacent - Covid numbers are still on the rise.
"Mass closures of hospitality venues would be counter productive at this stage, as the vast majority of operators are running safe venues with appropriate precautions in place.
"But the threat of further closures can't be ruled out if Covid numbers don't start to come down.
"This isn't a political row. Government and local government are united in our determination to drive down Covid numbers. That's why, over the next few weeks, we will be working on a new approach to Test, Trace and Isolate.
"We do, however, urgently need clarification on an economic support package for businesses that are affected by the current restrictions, and a local government settlement that avoids job losses or reductions to services in the care sector.
"The next week will be a crucial time - to prove that the current restrictions work, to develop a new approach on Test and Trace with government and to get financial support for businesses and councils agreed.”