'Stand firm message as chief thanks 'weary' South Tynesiders for 'great sacrifices' and 'fantastic' help for others as she calls on borough to 'rise to challenge' of third lockdown
South Tyneside Council leader Tracey Dixon sent a rousing message to people in the borough after the announcement England would enter strict lockdown measures as covid cases surge.
The weekly case rate for the borough has almost doubled, according to latest figures, and the whole of the UK is braced for a tough winter as new lockdown restrictions begin, with people told to stay at home, and schools closed until at least half term.
“As we enter another national lockdown, I understand that some of you may be weary of the restrictions we are all having to endure”, said Cllr Dixon.
"However, with the current spike in cases of coronavirus, further restrictions are vital to help curb the spread of the virus.
“I appreciate the great sacrifices you have all made in the fight against the virus and understand the negative impact it has had on all our lives.”
The town hall chief, who took over as council leader in November 2020, highlighted efforts made by groups, individuals and businesses in fighting back against the coronavirus.
"We have seen so many examples of people supporting others, from family, friends, neighbours and businesses to our fantastic third sector, who have co-ordinated an incredible number of volunteers. I thank every individual and business who has played a part, including those who have helped protect others simply by following the restrictions,” she said.
“I would also like to reassure you that your council remains committed to doing all it can to support you as we once again all face the toughest of restrictions on our lives. We stand side by side with you – you are not alone.
“At the start of the pandemic, the council quickly established a support hub for our clinically vulnerable residents and for those required to self-isolate with no other means of support, such as family, neighbours or friends, to access essentials such as food or medical supplies.
"This service can also help anyone who is struggling with their wellbeing, providing advice about services which can help, such as financial support, mental health support and connecting people with others to help address loneliness or isolation. Anyone can call the Covid Support Hub for free on 0800 028 2955.”
Cllr Dixon said she would continue to push for support for businesses hit by the pandemic. Her words came after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to be given a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, with the measure costing £4billion across the UK.
“As someone with experience of working in the hospitality sector, I know only too well the devastating impact the pandemic is having on people’s livelihoods and small businesses. These are incredibly tough times, but as leader of the council I am on your side and I am doing everything in my power to fight for a fair deal for those affected,” said Cllr Dixon.
"This includes regular dialogue with Central Government about the challenges faced by our communities right here in South Tyneside, pressing the case for a whole range of support locally, including financial support for businesses, to access to testing sites and vaccination rollout.”
She added: “In the face of this relentless pandemic, we must stand firm and I would urge each and every one of you to maintain your efforts to beat the virus by continuing to follow the guidance around hands, face and space.
"I know you will rise to the challenge once again to protect our communities and our NHS. Community spirit and the care we have for one another is one thing which sets South Tyneside apart and I truly believe it will be the key to getting us through these unprecedented times.
“We have come so far and, with the vaccine rollout already underway, we can look forward to a brighter future. As we enter the New Year, with renewed hope and efforts, your council will be with you every step of the way.”