'Local lockdown' plans for South Tyneside set to be in place by end of June

‘Local lockdown’ plans for South Tyneside should be ready by the end of June.

Health chiefs for the borough have been working on measures which could be used to flatten any further spikes in coronavirus infections.

But bosses at South Tyneside Council are hopeful they may be able to keep the virus at bay without having to resort to further restrictions on work, travel or shopping.

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South Shields Town Hall South Shields Town Hall
South Shields Town Hall

“So far the public, businesses and other settings have been extremely responsible,” said Tom Hall, the council’s director of public health.

People have stayed at home, socially distanced, businesses have remained closed where necessary.

“We’re very much looking to continue in a similar vein with regards to any need for local measures and that level of adherence will really help us through the next phase.”

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Hall was speaking at a meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet, which was held by video conference and broadcast via YouTube.

In May, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said ‘local lockdowns’ would be used to suppress new hotspots for COVID-19 infections, allowing the rest of the country to continue easing out of lockdown.

However, councils are not expected to be granted any new powers to enforce these, meaning they will have to make do with existing public and environmental health rules and the help of organisations such as Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

But bosses have also promised to work with ‘businesses, schools and care homes’ to agree measures if needed and where possible.

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Hall said: “We’re busy as a local authority developing local outbreak control plans that will support the implementation of the test and trace approach.

“Our plan will help support us to trace the virus, isolate new infections and give us early warning signs if the virus is starting to increase again, locally regionally or nationally.”

He added: “The plan should be completed by the end of June and the delivery of the plan will be overseen by the COVID-19 Leadership Board.”

The board is chaired by Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of the council, and it’s vice chair is Dr Matthew Walmsley, chairman of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

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