North East could move to tier 3 next week if situation doesn't improve after council leaders win one week's reprieve

The seven local authorities in the North East of England have been given a week’s reprieve from going into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, according to reports.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 12:31 pm

It was speculated on Friday, October 16 in The Sun newspaper that the region could see a change in its restrictions announced this afternoon as talks continued between the Government and leaders across northern England.

But according to reports by the Press Association, it is believed council leaders in Northumberland, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham have successfully argued to ministers that the rise in Covid-19 infection rates was slowing in the region.

However they have been told that avoiding the increased Tier 3 restrictions next week will depended on that reduction in coronavirus cases continuing.

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Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance. Picture: Jack Hill - WPA Pool/Getty Images.

A statement from them said: “We took the decision early last month to approach the government to ask for restrictions and resources to be put in place due to a worrying rise in the community Covid infection rate.

“While we welcomed the government’s response, the package of measures we put forward to support this move was not delivered.

“Three weeks on, and there is evidence that the restrictions are starting to have an impact. Figures are moving in the right direction, with the rise in cases slowing and giving us cause for cautious optimism.

“We are concerned by the suggestion that a decision could be taken nationally to move our region into Alert Level 3, and we strongly oppose this at the current time.”

Lancashire is confirmed as being the next location to move into Tier 3 restrictions – alongside the Liverpool City Region – following talks with leaders in the area on Friday.

From Saturday, people in Lancashire will be banned from socialising with anybody they do not live with in any indoor setting or private garden, as well as in most outdoor hospitality venues.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “An unrelenting rise in cases in Lancashire means we must act now, and we have worked intensively with local leaders to agree on additional restrictions.

“I know how heavy these additional challenges will weigh on everyday life for the people of Lancashire but they are critical in bringing this virus under control.”

In their statement on Thursday, the LA7 council chiefs reiterated the need for additional financial support for those areas covered by ‘high' (Tier 2) and ‘very high’ (Tier 3) alert levels.

The update to the Job Support Scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week – which will see the Government pay two-thirds of employees’ salaries if their place of work has to close due to restrictions – will also not be enough to sustain ‘the jobs of thousands’ who could be at risk, they said.

The statement added: “We firmly believe now is not the time to be moving to Alert Level 3, the evidence does not support this, and the economic consequences will be devastating without further support.”

Ben Houchen, Mayor of the Tees Valley – which also sits under Tier 2 restrictions – backed these calls for further financial support ahead of the Government’s announcement on the new rules earlier this week.

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