'Stupid' to put North East into Tier 3 covid restrictions - chief says councils awaiting decision date

A North East chief has said the strategy to control coronavirus in the region is working after the North East was given a week’s reprieve from Tier 3 – adding it would be ‘stupid’ to put our areas under tougher restrictions.

It comes after a decision on imposing more severe restrictions on the North East had been deferred by a week, but the region must prove Tier 2 is working.

Residents have also been told they must “do their bit” to make sure the virus does not “rip through our communities”.

There are grave concerns for the impact on jobs and businesses if the North East was put under Tier 3 covid restrictions

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Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon, one of the North East leaders most vocal on the issue, expects councils to meet with central Government later this week.

He said: “We haven’t been told the date or time of a further meeting but I am sure there will be one later in the week.

“Much of that depends on what happens this week, the figures look promising and the messaging is beginning to improve and I’m not expecting them to be significantly worse. I am expecting them to be showing a continuing decline [in cases].

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“We have the right strategy in place, but there is not a panacea, we will have a difficult journey right through this winter, it is going to be hard but I think we can control infections and retain capacity within the NHS and at the same time avoid the catastrophic implications of a local lockdown.”

Coun Gannon said the region staying on Tier 2 would be much cheaper for Government.

He added: “Logically and rationally Government won’t want to push the region into an unnecessary lock down.

“Even with the inadequate support package Tier 3 would be massively costly.

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“It be better to keep the economy open, keep the levels of infection under control, have people working to support their families and paying taxes rather than being paid out by the tax payer.

“We have got to demonstrate our strategy is working. It is clear it is working, the figures are beginning to go down. It would be stupid to put the North East in Tier 3 at the current time.”

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